A BOLTON charity is urging families not to suffer debt in silence this summer.
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) has doubled the number of its debt coaches, from two to four, who can help people struggling with money problems.
CAP has also issued advice for parents who are worried about how to keep children amused through the long school holiday break without over-spending.
Bolton Centre manager Anna Cooke said: “When the weather is good the options are more obvious, but when it’s wet you have to be more inventive and it helps to have some good ideas to hand.
“I want to say to parents: ‘Be smart about the summer holidays’.
“Do your research and make a plan. Decide how much you can afford each week and create a treats fund, however small, and talk about it with your children.
“Involve them in how you will spend it — they will appreciate what happens so much more and it’s a great lesson for them.”
CAP holds a weekly coffee morning session, from 10.30am to 12.30pm on Thursdays, where people can drop in for advice or to socialise.
Julie Broadhurst, aged 57, who lives in Withins, will be helping to look after her grandchildren this summer while her daughter is at work.
Speaking of the struggle parents can face, Mrs Broadhurst said: “There’s peer pressure.
“All their friends are going to Butlins or abroad and they are feeling left out.
“It’s a bit embarrassing if you haven’t got the money for the basics, to go to the pictures or even the park with the cost of bus fares and the ice cream man.”
The grandmother has had invaluable support from CAP, a national debt counselling charity with branches at The Bridge Church, Bradford Street, The Haulgh, and St Peter’s, Halliwell.
She said: “Do not be embarrassed. There are a lot of people these days who are struggling. A lot of people are on zero hour contracts — that affects their benefits.
“When they do find a job they are then without money for a number of weeks.”
Mother-of-one Gemma Kay, aged 32, of Somerton Road, Breightmet, contacted the charity when she found herself in debt after being made redundant from her job as a packer.
She was given help to work out a realistic budget to prioritise essential bills and CAP staff contacted her creditors to negotiate affordable payments.
Miss Kay said: “I still feel a little bit stressed because I have just lost my job, but I do feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
People can use the computers and phone at the Bridge Church during the Thursday morning session to apply for jobs and benefits.
To find out more about CAP’s free service, for any faith, visit capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006.