Churches can play a unique and strategic role in helping people through the recession.
That will be Richard Talbot's message to the forthcoming Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) at Westpoint, Exeter (29 - 31 Jan 2009).
"When people fall off the financial cliff, debt advice agencies only have time to pick up the pieces,: explains Talbot of Stewardship Money, a Christian financial support services charity. 'In these troubled times we can help prevent them ever reaching the cliff edge.'
In his seminar, Talbot will outline the scale of the UK debt problem and how more than 300 Stewardship Money volunteers are already working with vulnerable members of local communities facing the worst effects of the recession. The facts are:
* 298 people today will be declared insolvent or bankrupt
* Unemployment increased by 1,522 people every day during the three months to the end of September 2008
* 121 properties will be repossessed today
* The Citizens Advice Bureau dealt with 4,760 debt problems every day during the past 12 months
* More than one in 10 borrowers have missed payments on their mortgage, credit card or personal loan in the past six months
* More than one fifth of UK households are now struggling to pay their bills
* The number of people who spend more than they earn each month has risen to nearly 5.3 million
Churches have a grassroots presence in all communities, including the most deprived urban and rural areas. Talbot's seminar, presented at an event set to attract more than 4000 local church leaders and members, will unveil a range of options available to churches to help people struggling with debt.
"Local churches and our volunteers often gain access to hard-to-reach people and groups," he explains. "All churches can take action suitable to their resources of people, time and finance and we help them become 'recession ready' by establishing money ministries."
Often dubbed the 'ideal church show', South-West CRE, open to the general public, will cover a range of subjects, from multi-media worship to climate change. More than 30 seminars will be held over three days.
'The event plays a vital role in equipping and empowering local churches,' explains CRE event director Steve Briars. 'Speakers of real calibre, reflecting important regional concerns, have been blended with national experts on a host of relevant subjects.'
Up to 130 organisations are expected to exhibit at Westpoint - from vestment suppliers to publishers, children's charities to retreat centres.
For more information see: www.creonline.co.uk