From Ruth Grayson
Sir, - It is good to know that so many parishes now offer debt
advice (News, 5 December).
It would be even better if parishes could do more to prevent
personal debt among their parishioners in the first place.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has just announced that we do not
need large bank balances in order to enjoy ourselves, or
demonstrate generosity at Christmas. This message needs to be
preached loud and clear from all pulpits.
Christmas is the single greatest cause of personal debt in the
UK, after rent or mortgage arrears. And personal debt, in turn, is
often the cause of family feuds, relationship breakdown, and even
suicide. None of this should be atributable to a Christian festival
that purports to be about "bringing good news to the poor".
There are many other ways of being generous at Christmas: giving
time, giving skills, being neighbourly, and, above all,
prioritising charitable giving (which is how St John the Baptist
exhorted his followers to prepare for the coming of Christ in Luke
If a larger proportion of that £26 billion estimated to be spent
this year on our festivities in this country were allocated to
charities working with the poor, homeless, and destitute in this
country and overseas, that would indeed be good news for the whole
world. It might also mean more enjoyment and less stress at home.
It is up to us all.
25 Whitfield Road
Sheffield S10 4GJ