A DEBT counselling service in Highworth is cautioning people against spending beyond their means this Christmas.

With less than 100 days to go before Christmas, it’s all too easy to spend too much on presents, turkey and decorations and end up in the red.

The Highworth branch of Christians Against Poverty, which is a free service, has helped more than 100 people with their debt problems since it opened three years ago.

The free service is urging people not to splash too much cash in the festive period.

Kathryn Ford, Highworth CAP debt centre manager, said: “With personal borrowing on the rise we are warning people to plan what they are going to spend this Christmas and save as much as they can.

“Every year we see a flood of people coming to us in January who have spent more than they can afford at Christmas and it doesn’t have to be that way.

“ Just saving £5 a week will give you £70 to spend on presents and food.”

CAP volunteers visit every client at their home, collect their paperwork and give them the privacy and dignity that they need.

Meanwhile, specialist teams at the service’s head office negotiate with creditors and create a workable budget to enable each person to become debt-free.

Kathryn said: “If you know that before Christmas comes your finances are not in good shape and you are struggling to pay the bills, don’t struggle on, please let us help you,

“One phone call could be the difference between a merry Christmas or a miserable Christmas.”

The branch is run by four local churches which work in partnership as the Highworth Churches Together.

In all, 50 per cent of people who worked with CAP are now completely debt-free.

The service revealed that 67 per cent of their clients skipped meals, 38 per cent considered or attempted suicide, and 68 per cent of parents who used the service were unable to look after their children.

New clients have an average debt of £14,298 and owe on average the equivalent of 97 per cent of their annual household income.

CAP’s services are available to everyone – call 0800 328 0006.

For more information, visit capuk.org