According to StepChange, residents in Haringey have a higher proportion of debt than average in London. Council Tax arrears, payday loans and essential bills have been cited as the main causes of debt for residents in Haringey.
That is why September 2018 marked a major milestone for both the Church in Haringey and the community. Haringey Churches Group in partnership with Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is launched a Debt Management Centre (DMC) in Haringey. Hosted by Christ Church (West Green), this will be the first centre of its kind. Pray Haringey communications team spoke to the debt centre manager, Sharon Howard, to hear how the centre will make a difference for the community.
Sharon has personal experience of being in debt. As a young single mother, Sharon experienced the toll that debt brings. Fortunately, Sharon’s faith and supportive family helped her come through that time but she has never forgotten what it felt like. However, this is only one of the reasons that motivated her to take on this role. The second reason is connected to her desire to minister. Initially, she was considering going to bible college to study. But after being healed from a stroke in 2017, and then hearing a speech from a CAP representative seeking help, Sharon believed that God was calling her to this particular role.
Sharon has a real passion for the debt centre because it’s about helping people to be free from debt. “There is no fee, just love. Being free from debt means that people can make better decisions and can bring them closer to Christ” says Sharon.
Sharon offers this advice; “Debt makes people feel ashamed. Pride may prevent people from calling the debt management centre. Have no shame. Pick up the phone. The DMC is there to help in practical ways and spiritually.”
Reverend Gita Bond, Minister of Christ Church, believes that the Debt Management Centre is showing God love: “We as Haringey Churches Group will work together to make this a success. We’re taking a leap of faith. It’s not about one church or one person….it’s about God’s Kingdom. It’s about God’s heart”
So how can churches support the debt management centre/manager?
- Become a befriender and walk with the family through their debt management journey. Following training, their role is to observe and be sensitive to what is happening. They can also act as a signpost to services that can support the family in various ways. For example, If the home is cold, they can contact the supplier to try and get some emergency heating.
- Pray /Intercede for the centre and families
- Part of a network of church ’welcomers’ – should anyone using the centre decide to attend a local church, be a point of contact for them
- Make a donation
For more information, contact Rev. Gita Bond firstname.lastname@example.org.