Useful Information for anyone struggling with rising costs or bills in West Berkshire

Please see the information below of services that can be accessed for support on rising costs of food, energy costs, and the implications on the local community in West Berkshire.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) – Debt Centre for Newbury and the surrounding area.

We provide free debt counselling and take new appointment bookings for our Debt Help service via our helpline 0800 328 0006. The Newbury centre covers RG14 and 17-20 and we are booking appointments up to 3 months in advance. Christians Against Poverty has a network of over 300 debt centres operating in postcode catchments. To check what is available in a particular area use the postcode checker at https://capuk.org/i-want-help.

Our free debt counselling service normally takes place face to face in our client’s homes. Due to the restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic we were not able to see clients face to face, and we changed our debt counselling service to offer a telephone based debt help service. Since restrictions have been lifted we offer a hybrid service (telephone based and face to face) to help and support the clients through the process. We have worked hard with regulators to ensure that our service is compliant, and have taken care to ensure that it will work as well as it can do for vulnerable clients.

During our appointments we explain our service and gather together all the information about their income, expenditure and debts. Our head office debt advisors produce a financial statement/budget and options for the best route out of debt for the client from this information. We then explain and coach the client through the detail and options on their final appointment. We support them through this process and afterwards all the way to them becoming debt free.

Our client statistics show that 58% of our clients had waited a year before seeking help and 30% had waited 3 years. We do not want people to wait this long before seeking help, especially in light of the fact that 38% of our clients have considered or attempted suicide. Helping to identify those that need help early, and encourage them to contact us as soon as they get into difficulties, is where our referrers come in. The sooner we can help people the easier it is to get them out of debt and stay out of debt. All you need to do is give them our New Enquiries number 0800 328 0006 and encourage them to call us.

We work together with other local organisations like Foodbank, West Berkshire Community Baby Bank and Community Furniture Project to support our clients to provide emergency aid and more general support to those who need it.

West Berks Foodbank – will provide 7 days worth of food to each member in the household. These food parcel’s are currently delivered to the home address in unmarked cars delivered by DBS checked and trained volunteers.

When stock allows we can also supply toiletries, cleaning supplies, sanitary products, baby food and nappies as well as dog and cat food.

Treating each client as an individual we can tailor parcels to dietary and religious requirements.

As we speak with every client, we are then able to confidentially chat about other things we can do to help. Support them with getting help with concerns regarding missing or broken household goods, clothes or mobile phone top-up. Signposting them to other agencies regarding income maximisation, debt management, domestic abuse, getting school uniform,  and most other concerns. If we can’t help, we know someone who can.

Helen Dean at CCB (Connecting Communities in Berkshire) – delivers the CCB Family Home Energy Education and Advice Project, which gives advice and support to low-income families in cutting the cost of their gas, electricity and water bills, including discounts that are available, and dealing with utility debt. To refer a family, or find out more, email Helen at helen.dean@ccberks.org.uk, with the family’s phone number and email address, and any relevant information. Families can self-refer too.

Citizens Advice West Berkshire

General: 01635 516605

Carers/disability benefits: 01635 516609

Anyone that is in Sovereign Housing can also access the following support;

https://my.sovereign.org.uk/communities/communities

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