As we start this new year, many of us across Scotland are struggling with the increased cost of living. The cost of a food shop has increased alongside significantly higher fuel and energy costs. For so many families, debts are mounting and our finances are feeling like ever shifting sands.

Problem debt could happen to any of us – me or you – any of us could experience a change in circumstances, something unexpected like a redundancy, relationship breakdown, a bereavement. Yet we know the impact of problem debt is more likely to be experienced by those living on low incomes and is felt far more acutely by those with the smallest budgets.

Too often the burden of problem debt is overwhelming. Trapped, isolated, suicidal – all words regularly used by those accessing Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt. Regrettably, shame and stigma keep people trapped in problem debt. Over half of CAP clients wait a year or more to get debt help. Debt can lead to relationship breakdown and affect physical and mental health. Over a quarter of people seeking help from CAP have seriously considered or attempted suicide because of problem debt – a devastating statistic to digest.

But what’s even harder to consider is those who have felt compelled to take their
own life because of problem debt that we don’t know about. Debt doesn’t just damage lives, it takes them. Problem debt is a public health issue.

Christians Against Poverty is a Scotland and UK wide debt help and anti-poverty charity that, at its heart, seeks to connect the local Church with those in most need, regardless of background. Our unique partnership between individual Churches, across a wide range of denominations, who know their local communities and our highly trained, FCA regulated, specialist teams, work to enable families to journey out of debt.

Here in Scotland, our network of 26 community based debt centres, all run by local Churches, offer hope to those in the most difficult situations. Through over 20 years of providing free debt advice locally, we know that there is always a solution. Lives can be rebuilt and hope restored.

Debt isn’t just a financial issue. At CAP, we’re interested in whole person transformation. Our network of staff and volunteers from churches never hesitate to provide kindness and compassion, a friendly face, a listening ear, electric top ups or a cooked meal. Community and connection as well as a debt free future.

Susan, a single parent from Midlothian, made that first call to CAP to seek help and through appointments in the privacy of her own home, worked with her local Debt Coach to find the right debt solution. She said, ‘That first phone call was probably the most difficult call I have ever made. But once I made that call, my life completely changed. To know that I wasn’t on my own anymore was incredible’.

To find out more
about debt help from Christians Against Poverty go to
or call 0800 328 006 for free, confidential support.

– Emma Jackson, National Director Scotland
is the Scotland Director for Christian’s Against Poverty (CAP) overseeing the work in Scotland of this UK wide debt and anti-poverty charity. Emma has worked for CAP for 8 years, previously working in senior leadership in disability and Higher Education. Emma
speaks widely on the subject of debt, poverty and the local Church. Emma’s married to Niall and they have three children. They all live in the rural Scottish Borders enjoying outdoor life and being part of their local Church of Scotland Church. Emma is also
a contributor for BBC Radio Scotland’s Thought for the Day and a board member for the Poverty Alliance.