Dove House handles £7.3m debt

Derry community help centre Dove House has a staggering £7.3 million reported debt on its books and it's warned the city's debt crisis is spiralling out of control.

Eugene Bradley, co-ordinator of Neighbourhood Assistance at the Bogside based community centre said it has noticed a huge increase in the number of young people seeking advice.

"The debt situation in Derry really is spiralling out of control. Over the past two years we have noticed a huge increase in the number of young people coming to us seeking advice.

Some would take on three or four credit cards from companies who would throw credit at them, they would live the high life for a while but then something would happen and they would fall behind on payments. They then take on more debt to pay debt and it becomes a vicious cycle. This is particularly hard for a young person who has had no experience handling money."

"We are seeing a very worryingy increase in the numbers who believe they are on the financial edge. Many of those interviewed expressed concern that they were struggling keeping up with bills at present and that this will become increasingly difficult in the future."

Mr. Bradley was commenting after new research released by the Counsumer Council for Northern Ireland pinpoints the 24-35 year old age group as being by far the worst group at money management.

CCNI's Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown said the new research has identified a vulnerable category of consumers.

"Research showed that only four in ten people in the 24-35 year old age group are keeping up with bills and credit without difficulty and 52% of consumers are presently worried about how to make ends meet.

When asked about inevitable spending at Christmas, Mr Bradley warned consumers not to get sucked in; "At this time of year people can find themselves under pressure to cater to their children's every want. If you feel like this don't get carried away. Remember that you may still be paying for something next year that only lasted a week. Be very careful and don't let emotions carry you into debt. Come and seek advice from people who can help."

Mr Bradley urged anyone who needs help or advice to contact Dove House on 02871269327.