The Salvation Army Community church in Oldbury on Merton Close has launched a new Debt Advice Service to serve local people.
Church leader at The Salvation Army, Lieutenant Lydia Bartlett said: “The Salvation Army has invested in a new Debt Advice Service as we understand the financial pressure on people at the moment. According to Christians Against Poverty, 8.2m people in the UK are experiencing debt and *consumer credit has increased by £504.81 per household since the start of 2017. Our community church is in the fourth highest region for the number of families in debt*. As a church, we are called to respond to that need”.
The Salvation Army runs its Employment Plus service, which helps people get back on their feet and into work. The Employment Plus team has been based at the church for seven years, supporting over 500 local people back into employment. Lieutenant Lydia said: “We are able to help people break barriers to gaining employment, such as learning to read and write, helping get child care in place, even arranging for people to have suitable clothes for interview. These are things that many people take for granted, but some people struggle to manage and that may be for many different reasons”.
Parents may be paying double for a school uniform that was purchased last year on credit. A family may still be paying for those clothes at double the price because of high interest rates on personal loans or other forms of credit. The new Debt Advice Service is not a quick fix solution, but Lieutenant Bartlett said: “We are seeking to be on a long journey with people, not just for two weeks”.
The Debt Advice Service will formally open its doors to the public on Thursday 4th May between 3-7pm. People should book appointments to speak to a debt advisor. The service will be run by six members of staff. All the team have been trained in personal financial debt advice and the service is affiliated with ‘Community Money Advice’.
One of the trained staff, Joan Pugh said: “It is really easy to get into debt. Most people rely on their monthly salary and they don’t have savings. If you lose your job, it’s not long before things start to unravel. Putting money aside each month is actually very difficult”. Dawn Bevington, another member of staff said: “It’s sad that the service is needed, but it can make a big difference to families and we want to show that there is a way out of debt and hope for the future”.
The Salvation Army is passionate about transforming the lives of families and people in need – with providing compassion, respect and professional support in the Oldbury community.
The church also provides a community café on Tuesday mornings, Job Club on a Tuesday evening, Community Choir on a Wednesday and an evening of fun and games with children aged 4 – 16 years on a Friday evening. Worship for the church is on a Sunday at 10:30am and 5pm.
Lieutenant Lydia also warmly invites people to attend the ‘Big Spring Sing’ on Sunday 14th May between 1-3pm at the church. She said: “We are opening up the church for spring and invite all families and people from the surrounding area to come and enjoy an afternoon outside with great music and games. We have live music featuring the Oldbury Salvation Army Community Choir, Moat Farm Junior School Choir, Warley Infants School Choir and Youthful Voice Choir. We will have parachute games, all-age football, garden games and a toddler area, as well as all-age rounders, face-painting, crafts and an ice-cream van! The entry is free and refreshments are available”.
If you are interested in the activities at the church or to make an appointment for the new Debt Advice Service or Employment Plus, please call 0121 552 6901 for more information.