THE Morpeth branch of a debt charity is urging residents not to fall into a credit trap this Christmas.
With less than a month to go before the big day, Christians Against Poverty (CAP) says people should do their festive shopping with a clear strategy.
Half of those with out-of-control debt who contact CAP have at some time taken out a loan or credit card to cover the cost of the festive season, according to its own national client statistics.
Many of them then went on to lose their homes, were unable to feed and clothe their children and suffered from mental health problems.
Morpeth CAP Centre Manager Kirsty Douglas said: “These are difficult times for a lot of us and the temptation is to say, ‘at least we’ll have a great Christmas’ and use that as an excuse to spend what we haven’t got.
“If you’ve already caught yourself saying this, we want your alarm bells to be ringing loud and clear.
“Over indulging on presents for everyone in a mile radius is no longer in fashion. Most of us have seen our income squeezed significantly and will be scaling back so we must not feel the pressure to over consume.
“We just want people to enjoy Christmas as the time of hope and celebration it ought to be and not herald the start of a terrible downward spiral.”
The Morpeth centre, which opened in January 2009, gives free face-to-face debt counselling to all quarters of the community, not just Christians.
The charity visits people in their own home, sets a budget, contacts creditors and then offers holistic support until the client is debt free.
For more information, telephone 0800 3280006 or visit www.capuk.org