A NATIONAL debt help charity is working via a Prestonpans church to offer free debt support to East Lothian residents.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP), in partnership with Lighthouse Central Church, on West Loan, is offering the service not just to church-goers but to all members of the community.

Outside lockdown, appointments would be made for a member of the trained team to visit clients at home for a consultation; due to Covid-19 restrictions, the service is currently being offered via phone or video chat.

Andy Boyle, Lighthouse Central’s debt centre manager, said: “We know how hard it can be to ask for help but we have a lovely, friendly team ready to book you in and it takes no time.

“Debt problems feel overwhelming but the way to tackle them is taking the right steps day by day and that starts with the phone call.”

The Prestonpans team is the busiest of CAP’s 23 debt centres in Scotland, and Andy said the service had seen an increase in users during Covid.

He said: “People are seeing their bills go up, as they are using heating more working from home, or they are spending more on food.

“Some people are earning less but still have to pay the same bills.”

The average debt among CAP’s clients has risen by £1,000 to around £14,000 compared to last year.

Nine in 10 of CAP clients have an income lower than the national average and almost two in three (64 per cent) live below the poverty line.

The CAP teams can help clients manage their budgets, understand their income and outgoings, and liaise with creditors to organise debt repayment.

Andy told the Courier: “We advise them of what they can do; we don’t tell them what to do. They can take control of their debt and decide how they want to manage it.”

To make an appointment with a member of the Lighthouse Central Church CAP team, call 0800 328 0006 or visit capuk.org