Helping people to become debt-free

15 February 2024

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a national charity with 300 debt centres across the United Kingdom in partner churches including Northcliffe Church, a Local Ecumenical Partnership with the URC, in Shipley in the Yorkshire West Methodist District. In 2022, 1,946 of CAP’s clients became debt-free and 9,168 were supported.  

Mayme Small, is CAP Debt Centre Manager for Shipley Christians Together, based in Northcliff Church. “It is a privilege to be invited to people’s homes, to sit with them and to chat. It’s a relief for them to know that we're here and can share some of the emotional load. It's not the end of the road, but there's something positive in knowing we are here to help and that we care about them.”  

The Shipley area has pockets of privilege and pockets of deprivation. The average annual household income of a CAP client, after housing costs, is £13,909. With the increase in food and energy bills, the average shortfall for a client was £240 per month. The majority of people seeking help for debt are between 41 and 60 years old, so are of working age, with only a third on benefits due to long-term sickness. In a survey by CAP, 56% of people said that they had been pushed into debt by the increase in the cost of food, clothing, household bills or by an unexpected cost. 


People with looming debts are having to make sacrifices that lower their quality of life, such as going without meals or not heating their homes. Mayme’s role as CAP Debt Centre Manager is to offer face-to-face support for people, work out a personalised route out of debt and to support them through the journey. 

Mayme has been creating a network to let the community know that there is a CAP representative in Northcliff and is building her network with food banks, the Job Centre and other charities helping people in need. 

“On my first meeting with a new client I gather all the information for a trained debt advisor to draft a budget that offers a path out of debt. It can be repayment plans that go on several years, or it might be insolvency options,” explains Mayme. 

CAP works with its clients until they are debt free which can take a few months or several years. Clients pay into a CAP plan, and CAP then distributes the money to various creditors based on the priority of the debt. 

When people are interested, Mayme is happy to share her faith with them. Some even have recently started to come along to church, “That's been a real encouragement. We can offer people the hope of being debt-free and the hope of living in a community of believers who show hope beyond the struggle. People have hard lives and even becoming debt-free is not always the end of the struggles. 

“People still have low incomes, there's still a cost of living crisis, but can say Jesus offers a hope beyond all of that.”