A Suffolk debt support organisation has said the number of people coming to it for help has "snowballed" since the start of 2022.

The Suffolk Coastal Debt Centre, which has a network of 40 volunteers based across the county, has seen double the amount of clients - including a sharp increase in pensioners and young people.

"Five years ago, the water was up to people's necks but they could breathe," said Rev Nic Stuchfield, chair of the organisation.

"Now the water is so high that people are submerged standing on their tiptoes.

"The pandemic saw welcomed government support that worked as a temporary plaster. Once that ended, things started to get worse.

"Since the start of this year, numbers have really snowballed.

"As the cost-of-living crisis worsens, the curve is steepening more and more."

The Debt Centre, which is run by the national charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP), provides crucial support to those who are struggling with debt, budgeting and paying their essential bills.

The service is free to access and anyone who gets in touch will be seen immediately and booked-in for face-to-face appointments.

The organisation has no office. Instead, volunteers work from home and meet clients wherever they feel most comfortable.

A volunteer is then assigned to help the client budget and find ways out of "overwhelming levels of debt".

"We want to support people so they can live comfortably," said Laura Knight, CAP debt centre manager.

"It is a truly amazing feeling when you see someone lift themselves out.

"We take on two households a month and support them for as long as they need. It might be six months, it might be five years.

"We'll do whatever it takes to help people becoming debt free and live well."

Between 80% and 90% of the centre's new clients have no self-saving solution out of their problems.

Volunteers will therefore help them to budget and come up with financial plans that can help.

However, the organisation is increasingly finding budgets to be unsustainable for the client's situation.

"That's when we refer them to other organisations such as foodbanks," said Laura.

"We also try to help them get some work just to bring in a little bit of money."

The centre has recently seen a spike in the number of pensioners and young people needing support - including some who have just left school.

Rev Stuchfield said cases involving the elderly are particularly troubling as it can be difficult for some in these age groups to improve their financial situation.

"When we first started in 2018, the main source of issues was relationship breakdown," he said.

"We never saw any pensioners.

"The fact that we've seen such a spike is really scary because their options are limited

"But we can work with them to help them relieve financial pressures."

In a bid to tackle an ever-increasing list of the causes behind poverty, CAP also run two courses: CAP Life Skills and CAP Money.

The former teaches practical money-saving techniques, while the latter offers clients the chance to learn budgeting skills and how to get a grip with finances.

In a bid to fight the issue at the source, the Debt Centre also provides educational sessions for pupils in primary and secondary schools.

"There can be a number of reasons people can find themselves in these difficult situations," said Laura.

"But they all have the same worry: paying their bills.

"At the end of the day, every individual is different. We need to be able to deal with the whole person - mentally, physically etc - or they will never get to where they need to be."

"This isn't about box-ticking," added Rev Stuchfield.

"If someone needs two hours we will give it to them.

"Our message will always be: if you are in trouble, contact us and we can help. That is far better than sitting in isolation and letting it drag you down."

Residents in the postcodes: IP12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and NR34 are eligible for support from the Suffolk Coastal Debt Centre.

You can contact them on 0800 328 0006 or email them at capdebthelp.org.