PEOPLE in the Horsham district are losing their jobs or taking pay cuts every day, leading to more and more of them getting into debt.
The work of the Horsham Debt Advice Service (HDAS), run in association with Horsham Churches Together, is the subject of this week’s County Times Helping Hand for Horsham Campaign.
Run from an office near Horsham Town Centre, trained volunteers have helped hundreds of people out of debts ranging from £260 to £73,000.
They act as mediators for creditors, write letters, help people manage their finances and set a realistic budget.
Doug Curties from the HDAS said: “We emphasise two things about the service we provide: it is free and it’s confidential.
“We are free because we are supported by ten of the Horsham churches. They provide contributions to our running costs and we have others in the community who have given us money.
“The main reason for the success and expansion of this service has been the support of these churches. We are able to achieve far more collectively than would be possible otherwise.
“One of the main fundamental objectives of the service is to demonstrate God cares about our community and the problems the community faces.”
The advisors talk people through their finances, see if they are entitled to benefits they are already not claiming and make sure the ‘priority debts’ are dealt with first. These include mortgage or rent, gas or electric, water and council tax.
They also look into whether they can make savings on their bills by signing up to special deals.
Doug, who used to be an advisor, but now helps manage the service, said: “The main message to people is to seek help sooner rather than later. You will have more options available to you and it’s less difficult to manage.
“It’s free advice and we are non-judgemental.”
They have about 20 to 25 volunteer advisors who have helped people of all ages - from teenagers to elderly people in their eighties. They also help people through bankruptcy if that is the best option for them.
For more information call 01403 258040, email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the charity’s website www.hdas.co.uk
Some of the people who have benefited from the service told the County Times their story. To read their experiences buy this week’s edition out until Wednesday.