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Too afraid to answer the phone - CAP says cost of living is leading to isolation

by Donna Birrell

Christians Against Poverty says the rising cost of living is leading to more people becoming lonely and isolated. 

In a new report, the charity found that 60 per cent of its clients felt lonely and nearly 68 per cent were too scared to answer their phone because of mounting debt problems. 
It says despite lockdowns ending and Covid-19 restrictions being eased, the financial pressure from the cost of living crisis is leaving people in constant anxiety.

The survey also found that before seeking free debt help, 40 per cent felt as though they hadn't had a meaningful conversation in over a week - previously it was 31 percent. Two thirds, 64 per cent, often or always felt they had nobody to turn to when they had a problem - that's up from 58 per cent previously.

Jonathan Shaw, CAP's creditor relationship manager told Premier poverty leads to many people feeling excluded:

"When CAP's debt coaches go into a client's house, often there is no food in the cupboards, no money on the electricity meter, so the idea of just going out for a coffee with a friend is a million miles away for hundreds of people.
"There's a lot of fear and shame and guilt associated with debt and when your phone is constantly ringing because someone is asking for payment for this credit card or this loan, it can be very easy for people to go in on themselves and isolate away because they know that when the phone rings it's not often good news."

40 percent of those surveyed said they were afraid to leave the house and more than half (55 per cent) were too afraid to even answer a knock at the door. But Jonathan Shaw says the church is well placed to offer support:

"The church can do incredible things that perhaps the government or local government may struggle to do. We obviously want to see people plugged into a community and having meaningful conversations with people and finding friendship and finding a hope for the future as well." 

CAP's director of external affairs, Gareth McNab, said: "For many of us, the easing of lockdown restrictions meant a thankful end to isolation, but for thousands of low income families struggling in debt and poverty, the isolation and loneliness they feel is actually getting worse due to the cost of living crisis and mounting debts.

"Right now we know many people are feeling isolated, scared and forgotten as they struggle alone with their debts, not aware of the free help available. Alongside CAP's free debt help, we also offer emotional support, and Life Skills courses to help people who feel isolated to connect with others and reduce loneliness. 
"Trying to struggle through debt by yourself can lead to other serious mental health challenges. I'd say to anyone out there, don't suffer alone and in isolation, but get in touch today for some friendly support and see how we can help."

You can contact CAP on: 0800 328 0006 or visit

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