A new debt advice service helping families in Levin is at capacity already just months after opening its doors.

The books at the local branch of Christians Against Poverty (CAP), a national debt counselling charity, were full since it opened its first debt centre in Queen St late last year.

The CAP centre in Levin was one of 46 nationwide and with the pressures of the recent Christmas spend coming to bear early in the New Year, their presence was timely.

Levin CAP debt centre manager Jacqui Blyton said resources meant they were limited as to how many families were on the books at one time.


CAP was helping almost 600 families nationwide and in the last 10 years had assisted 1300 clients with their debt obligations.

Mrs Blyton said the programme could be life-changing for a family struggling with debt.

"I volunteer my time because I'm passionate about it ...I 'm passionate about helping families," she said.

"I feel I need to help people, because I'm a Christian.

"We are non-judgmental," she said, with the approach focusing more about the solution and the path out of debt rather than delving too deeply into why or how that debt had occurred.

"We don't want to look at reasons why as it then becomes more of a blame thing ... we don't necessarily look at why it's happening. There can often be many social issues involved.

"There is no blaming whatsoever.

"It's been an eye-opener. There is a lot of people in debt in New Zealand.


"What holds people back from getting help in lots of ways is a feeling of embarrassment, of saying 'I am in this situation'.

"Most people are working which shows you it is tough out there."

A debt coach would visit new clients with their families in their homes to help understand their financial situation.

"For some people it could be two or three or four years before they are out of debt."

While the service was church-based, she said there was no pressure put on clients to convert to Christianity.

"We would love to see them come to the faith but don't pressure anybody to come to church or become Christian."

Professionally-trained credit liaison officers at head office would negotiate with creditors on a client's behalf, offering payments that were affordable.

The organisation began in the UK in 1986 and had been in New Zealand since 2007.