A NEW debt centre has successfully launched in Kendal after years of planning.

More than a hundred people attended the opening of the Kendal and District Debt Centre (KDDC) on Sunday at St Thomas' Church, including Tim Farron MP, the High Sheriff of Cumbria David Beeby and Kendal’s mayor, Councillor Douglas Rathbone.

The centre will provide vital support to the area's residents and will initially have capacity to take on two new people each month.

And the team has already seen their first client.

The Reverend Jonny Gios, chairman of trustees, said it was ‘so good’ to be open and encouraged anyone struggling with debt to seek support from the centre.

“We are so pleased it’s off the ground,” he said.

“We had a tremendous first visit with our first client and we hope for many more clients we can help out of debt.

“You don’t need to be a Christian to get our help, it’s open to anyone from any background.

“Just come forward and we’ll put an arm round.

“We’ll work with you to support you in a non-judgemental way.

“It doesn’t matter how you got into that debt.”

The centre is a franchise of debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP).

Referrals are made to CAP, which produces the financial plan necessary to get a person out of debt.

CAP will then contact KDDC, which is to be managed by Samantha Vyner-Brooks and supported by a team of voluntary 'befrienders'.

Ms Vyner-Brooks and a befriender will visit a person's home to provide pastoral support to bolster the work of CAP.

Cllr Rathbone said it was ‘great’ the centre, which is one his mayoral charities, had opened.

“It’s great that this has been launched here, that CAP have heard the cry of those who are really suffering and are there to help lift people out of the pit that is the despair of debt,” he said.

“Nothing here is an easy answer but getting alongside people in this situation offers personal support as well as a practical solution for an often hidden problem.”

Rev Gios said the centre is still looking for befrienders and hopes businesses can also get on board.

“Anyone who can support the centre financially, or anyone who can support the centre as a volunteer, or with referring clients would be greatly appreciated,” he added.

CAP can be contacted on 0800 328 0006 or the centre can be contacted by emailing samanthavyner-brooks@capuk.org