The Lurgan and Armagh CAP Centres are using World Suicide Prevention Day to remind people that however bad debt problems look, there is always hope and a solution. They urge people to contact them if they are feeling desperate about poor finances.
Trained members of local churches run a CAP Debt Help Centre in partnership with multi award-winning UK charity Christians Against Poverty to give a free service to local people.
Lurgan CAP Centre Manager Lorraine Emerson said: “More than a third of the people (34%) who contact CAP about debt say they are feeling suicidal. They often talk about being trapped and say they feel unable to cope with the constant demands from creditors.
“We have a message for anyone who can relate to that – or anyone who knows them: let us fight this one for you.”
The process of becoming debt free begins with a home visit from a debt counsellor from the local team; all the debts are discussed; the service is described and all the paperwork collected.
“People are often worried we’ll wag our fingers at them. On the contrary, we would never judge. We know life can get complicated and the unexpected can happen.
What we aim to do is find a way forward – that’s what we’re interested in.”
The paperwork is sent to CAP’s head office in Bradford, leaving each client with a pile of freepost envelopes to forward on any more creditors’ letters that might arrive.
Staff at the charity work out the best route out of debt and devise a budget for every client which is again explained face-to-face.
“Getting debt free isn’t easy but we will not just set you on course and let you get on with it, we will be there to support and encourage you all the way and that’s what makes CAP different.”
For debt help see capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006.
Also for World Suicide Prevention Day PIPS Upper Bann are holding their annual balloon release on Thursday (September 10).
During the event, which will take place at 7pm at the YMCA on Carnegie St, Lurgan, 268 pink and blue balloons will be released to mark each of those who died as a result of suicide last year in Northern Ireland.
“The aim of the balloon release is not only to remember all of those who have died in the local community as a result of suicide,” explained Seanna Nugent, Chair of PIPS Upper Bann, “but to raise awareness and reduce the stigma around suicide and mental health issues - in the hope that it will encourage more people in distress to ask for help.”
This year’s theme is ‘Preventing Suicide: Reaching out and saving lives’, with the aim of encouraging everyone to consider how crucial support can be in combating suicide.
“The act of showing care and concern to someone who may be vulnerable to suicide can have such a huge impact,” said Seanna.
PIPS will be running a new ‘Time for Change’ group from September onwards. This is an opportunity for those who feel isolated, lonely or depressed to engage in activities which improve well-being, and to connect with other people in the community.
For more information on the ‘Time for Change’ group - or any of the other services provided by PIPS - please contact PIPS on 028 3831 0151.