Top bishop fears family breakdown

SUFFOLK'S top bishop today warned that the downward economic spiral was leading to the breakdown of relationships among families.

SUFFOLK'S top bishop today warned that the downward economic spiral was leading to the breakdown of relationships among families.

The Rt Rev Nigel Stock, bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, spoke out last night as workers struggle with the credit crunch, jobs uncertainty and the prospect of mounting bills for Christmas.

The cleric, who is concerned that some institutions have been making credit too easily available, says it is important to support retailers, whose livelihood can depend on the festive spending.

But he is also keen that families do not fall too far into debt and said last night: “Once debts pass a certain level it spirals and can cause a break up in a relationship.


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“People can get secretive about this and when the crisis comes it is probably far worse than people realize very often.

“Families are better to seek support from the various agencies earlier than they often do and people need to be encouraged to do that.

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“I do realize that many of our commercial traders do rely on this time for their livelihood and I certainly do not want to see them suffer. But at the same time there is a pressure on families that can get quite serious and can take the enjoyment away.”

The bishop hopes people will realize they are not alone at this time of year, that family ties are important, and that celebrating the family is a better way to celebrate the festive period.

David Harker, Chief Executive of the Citizens Advice Bureau, an organisation that helps people deal with their debts, said: “We all love buying people gifts they will appreciate. But people need to take precautions so that Christmas presents don't become New Years debts.”

And Dr Wil Gibson, Chief Executive of rural charity Suffolk Acre, said: “We know a lot of people in rural areas have low skills, many of them are in low paid employment, and some of it is seasonal.

“They are likely to be under pressure, and will have the moral pressure of buying presents for their family and children.”

Is the credit crunch affecting your family? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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