Christians fight poverty with budget service

Christians Against Poverty development manager Paul Eardley (left) joins Dunedin Debt Counselling...
Christians Against Poverty development manager Paul Eardley (left) joins Dunedin Debt Counselling Centre manager Jo Knowles, and Musselburgh Baptist Church pastor Mike Tonks to launch the local service. Photo by Brenda Harwood.
''Walking the journey'' with people as they become debt-free is the focus of a Dunedin debt-counselling service.

Launched last month at Musselburgh Baptist Church, the Christians Against Poverty (Cap) Debt Counselling Centre is a response to debt and poverty.

Cap Debt Centre manager Jo Knowles, of Dunedin, said the free service was a partnership between the international Cap organisation and Musselburgh Baptist Church.

It is one of a growing network of centres throughout New Zealand, with 29 founded so far.

The service is funded by donations, mostly from churches.

Nationally, the organisation is working with 565 families and managing more than $9.5 million in debt on their behalf.

In the past six years, $14 million in debt has been repaid, with 173 families becoming debt-free.

''We take a holistic approach to the situation, so we look at helping people to get out of debt as well as building ongoing relationships,'' Mrs Knowles said.

There was definitely significant poverty in Dunedin, with many people struggling on low incomes.

The service helped people manage debt by providing a personal debt coach supported by credit liaison officers at Cap head office in Auckland and local volunteer support workers.

Launching the Dunedin Cap Debt Counselling Centre last month, national Cap centre development manager Paul Eardley said he was ''passionate about helping the kids''.

The service prioritised three areas - food, rent and power, while empowering the client to take charge of their own financial situation.

For more information, phone Jo Knowles on 021 163-6900, Mike Tonks on 454-5081 or visit


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