Suicidal, hungry and trapped – CAP report reveals devastating reality of poverty during pandemic

Poverty is destroying lives across the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s what a report by national debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) can reveal today.

As part of the ‘Our story’ report, clients were asked about their lives before they got debt help:

  • Suicidal – Over a quarter (28%) considered or attempted suicide before seeking debt help.
  • Hungry – Over a third (37%) sacrificed meals because they couldn’t afford to eat.
  • Trapped – Over half (58%) felt trapped in poverty with nobody to turn to when they had a problem.

This report also shows the average peak household debt in 2020 was £17,917. The average CAP client household income (after housing costs) sits at just £12,845, that’s compared to the national average (after housing costs) of £24,900. The two main reasons stated for people falling into debt were low income (20%) and mental health (18%).

Young people were the least likely age group to seek help despite them being among the hardest hit during the pandemic. Only 8% of CAP clients in 2020 were aged between 18-25.

Former CAP client, Paula, explains how debt impacted her family: “My husband and I worked for the same company and we were both made redundant. After the redundancy the debts started building; rent arrears, Council Tax arrears, doorstep loans, catalogue loans.

“We were missing meals four or five nights a week so that the kids could have dinner. I didn’t want to go out, I couldn’t speak to anyone on the phone. It was a horrendous time.”

Suicidal, hungry and trapped - CAP report reveals devastating reality of poverty during pandemic

CAP’s CEO, Paula Stringer, says: “Our latest report gives just a glimpse of how much the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people’s lives. I believe there are millions more families in debt across the UK still suffering in silence.”

During the pandemic, debt help charities like CAP are continuing to work tirelessly to free people from the chains of poverty.

  • Help – Christians Against Poverty helped over 16,000 people in 2020.
  • Community – Over 280 local CAP Debt Centres are continuing to work alongside those in the community who’re struggling.
  • Budgeting – CAP ran over 800 budgeting courses to help equip people with the tools they need to stay out of debt.
  • Hope – Over 2,500 people still went debt free despite the pandemic.

Paula added: “Despite all the challenges of the last year, we want everyone to know there is hope. There are charities out there who can offer free, expert help out of debt. Getting debt help can quickly relieve the pressure, ease the strain on people’s mental health and help them get their lives back on track.”

You can find out more about their services and/or contact CAP on their website here.