The group, led by Daniel and Emily Smith, Pastors of Gloucester Vineyard Church, approached the diocesan Development Fund for the final £5,000 needed to open the new debt centre.
Christians Against Poverty is a charity which partners with local churches to bring debt relief and other financial services to those experiencing extreme poverty. They equip churches to love and serve their neighbours who are struggling under the weight of debt and allow them to demonstrate the love of Jesus in a tangible way by removing the burden of extreme debt.
As well as Gloucester Vineyard Church, Hillview Church, Gloucester Community Church, Mariners Church, Gloucester Elim Church and Kendal Road Baptist Church have all contributed time, prayer and money for the project. The intention is that within two years the project will grow and attract new churches, becoming fully funded by the member churches.
The aim of the centre is not only to help people with the financial burden of debt, but also to help them with their social, personal, and spiritual needs. It will be run through home visits, with a paid centre manager for the first year, with potentially more volunteers and possibly another paid debt counsellor taking up posts in the second year.
Daniel said, “My wife and I saw the extraordinary impact that a really well-run centre had on the local community when we were at Southampton Vineyard Church. We moved to Gloucester to plant a church and about 18 months ago, we felt God prompting us very strongly that the time to start up a debt centre was now. Initially, we thought the timing sounded ridiculous, as we were a new church and not yet established, but we made some approaches to other local churches and people came back to us so quickly in favour of action that it surprised us. It’s been a great privilege to work alongside church leaders who have such a heart for the city and a heart for the poor.
“The project initially moved more slowly than we would have liked, but now we can see the providence of that. God knew when it would be needed, and we are so surprised by how apt the timing is.
He continued, “Our vision for the project is that as it runs, we will gather more churches and organisations who are interested in supporting the centre. We believe our collaboration sends a clear message of unity, love and resolve to those outside our churches and clearly demonstrates the mission of the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of Jesus.
“We believe that by collaborating and sharing the funding obligations we are building a sure foundation upon which this centre can be built and grow. By no one church shouldering the cost, we safeguard against underfunding and by uniting six churches together we have a stronger pool of volunteers to befriend clients, as well as people to pray for the success of the centre and be ready to welcome clients into churches.”
Notes to editors
- A 2018 study by the Money advice service showed that 18% of adults in Gloucester are overindebted, some 18,000 people.
- A 2017 report by the Children’s Society suggests that; “Children in families in problem debt are five times more likely to have low well-being than those not facing difficulties with debt”.
- According to End Child Poverty’s extensive 2019 study of child poverty levels in the UK, 1 in 3 children in Gloucester live below the poverty line. A similar study focussing on neighbourhoods in 2018 suggested that some wards in Gloucester city such as Barton and Tredworth have more like one in two children living in poverty.