Henley-on-Thames Churches Debt Centre celebrated it’s first anniversary at the d:two Centre on Wednesday evening when the Trustees, stakeholders and employees spoke about the work they had achieved over the last year.
Last year Henley-on-Thames churches teamed up to open a local Christians Against Poverty (CAP) debt centre to offer people in Henley free, expert debt help.
Jeremy Bray, Minister at Henley Baptist Church welcomed guests and said, “The last year has been amazing and gone incredibly quickly. We have many families who have really appreciated the work. The free service is open to everyone whatever their background, faith or no faith.
Teresa Thwaites, CAP Regional Manager added her thanks for responding to the needs. She spoke about what poverty is and shared some statistics which included that 9.3m people are in debt in the UK and 6.3m adults go without heating or hot water on a daily basis. She said, “We offer a face to face service and we support people all the way through their debt journey. We show no judgement.”
A video was then shown of a couple who couldn’t provide for their family. Jenny said the worst day was when she only had 68p in her purse and couldn’t even afford 4 bananas for her children to eat. They have now been debt free since 2016.
Debbie Bruwer, Henley Debt Centre Manager said, “It’s a real privilege to stand here today and would like to thank everyone for their support. I’ve worked with people from all walks of life over the last year. We’ve helped and supported 23 families/individuals this year and 3 of those are now debt free. We’ve walked alongside them one day at a time. A lot of the time it is just listening. Helping people on their journey is an amazing thing to do. We’ve worked closely with Nomad, John Hodges Trust and Henley Lions for crisis support. There are many more people that need our help. We have the capacity for 2 new clients per month. We hope to recruit another Debt Coach soon. I shall be running the Henley Half Marathon in October to raise money for the Henley Debt Centre.”
Mary Anne Uwaezuoke, Life Skills and Job Club Manager spoke about the Life Skills nine-week course that she had run in April which include practical money saving techniques, home energy saving tips, how to budget and the class of 6 people had created a community to help and support each other. Another course is due to start on Friday 29 September at d:two and a new Job Club will start on Friday 12 January 2024 at the Christ Church Centre when they will be linking up with the Henley Business Partnership and Henley Volunteer Network. The Job Club will cover how to write a good CV and covering letter, how to handle interviews and how to keep a job.
Henley on Thames Churches Debt Centre Trustee, Terry Grourk said, “A year ago Citizens Advice and Nomad told me their number 1 wish was to set up a Debt Centre. Thanks to the four churches (Holy Trinity, St Mary’s, Henley Baptist Church and Christ Church) who agreed to all work together. We also now have Remenham and Sacred Heart Churches. We want to do more and we need a higher referral rate. We want to do even more than we are doing. So please spread the word and tell people about the service.”
Tim Prior, Nomad Youth & Families Team Manager said, “Superbly led by Debbie, the CAP team has already proved to be such an invaluable resource to many families and individuals in Henley. If you are in financial crisis having local support to hold your hand and walk you calmly and practically through the process to becoming debt free is life changing.”
The charity is also hosting a fundraising black-tie gala dinner at Leander on Saturday 27 January 2024 with comedian Milton Jones, Olympic Rower, Debbie Bruwer and Paul Aitchinson, ‘The Astonishment Artist’. Tickets are priced £100 available by calling Terry on 07768 610213.
For free non-judgemental support or to offer help for the new Debt Centre, please contact Debbie on email@example.com and 07379 040116