FAMILIES struggling with debt problems are being given a helping hand.

Weymouth and Portland has been selected as a new base for a free debt counselling service after problems were recognised in the borough.

It will be run by the charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) which is teaming up with local churches to introduce the service.

Counsellors will see people in their homes but it is hoped a drop-in centre will be established later in the year.

The service will launch on March 31.

The borough is one of 15 places around the country where a service will launch this spring.

It is ‘rare good news for the UK amid continuing economic difficulties’, says CAP, which has Dorset bases in Poole, Ferndown and Gillingham.

Weymouth and Portland centre manager Sally Hunt said: “The church has always been about offering hope and we’re really pleased to be able to give a tried-and-tested route out of debt alongside other great free debt advice in the area like Citizens Advice.

“There is a lot in the Bible about looking after the poorest. A lot of poverty is debt-related so our congregation has been working hard to open a CAP centre to help get people back on track.”

She said local churches became aware of people who were in need of debt support and approached CAP to work with them.

There has been positive feedback about the service from staff at the Weymouth Children’s Centre and the county council’s Locality Team.

CAP offers an in-depth, caring service to people with spiralling personal debt regardless of their age, gender, faith or background.

“The charity does all the negotiating with creditors and volunteers offer support face-to-face until the day clients are debt free.

Sally Hunt added: “Typically, debts can build up when a relationship breaks down, or someone loses their job, or through bereavement – so often when people are least able to cope with a financial headache.

“We’re just so pleased to be able to partner the care of our church with the financial expertise of CAP’s head office in Bradford.”

To find out more see capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006.