Open a Centre
Thinking of opening a centre?
Opening and running a debt advice centre on the CMA model starts with a clear vision and commitment to helping people in debt and financial difficulties in your community. This is extremely important as establishing a centre requires considerable organisation, hard work, and – most importantly – once you begin to see clients, you and your team will be making an often long-term commitment to helping them.
In addition you need to be driven by compassion for those you are going to help. Debt can cause the breakdown of relationships and of health, lead to the loss of homes, cause depression, fear, anger and shame, and sometimes lead to serious addiction problems and even suicide. You need to be prepared to offer comfort and encouragement as well as practical help, and you will find that coffee, tissues and listening are as important as negotiating with the client’s creditors.
Debt advice work is life changing: it’s not just about money: it is about enabling people to escape from circumstances that have blighted their lives.
‘You are life savers. I didn’t know what to do or where to go and was ready to do something stupid. You have shown me that my life is worth living.’
-Mr D. CMA Client.
Go to our client stories page to see more testimonies from CMA Centre clients, illustrating how a community based debt advice service can transform people's lives.
It is this that motivates CMA’s centres and it should be at the heart of your vision for the work. In addition, you must be aware that CMA have a number of requirements of affiliate centres that must be observed to gain membership, most importantly: your service must be completely free to clients and you must operate within all current legislative requirements - CMA provide this framework for you, including policy documentation.
The debt advice process is simple in principle, but can be complex and demanding in many cases. Your clients will bring various problems to you, from a fixed or low income client with relatively small debts, who can sometimes be helped by claiming overlooked state benefits, through to well-paid executives who have lost a job or been trapped by taking out tens of thousands of pounds of debt. In every case, your advisers will start by creating a summary of the client’s income and expenditure, their outstanding debts, and any money ‘left over’ each month. This is called a Financial Statement. Then either the adviser or a dedicated administrator will contact the client’s creditors to negotiate repayment schedules. This process can take a few weeks. Once established, the resulting Debt Management Plan may take a number of years to manage through. In some cases you may need to attend court hearings with clients, or help them file for bankruptcy or access another insolvency solution.
CMA runs Envision Seminars through the year. These two and a half hour sessions cover the current debt crisis, the consequences of debt, and how you can help people in your community. You can chose to join an existing course, or we can look to arrange a new course in your area, by request. See further details here.
It is a big commitment. However, if you decide this is right for you, then CMA can provide you with support, materials and expertise to help you establish and maintain your centre. We keep our charges to a minimum, so that small as well as large groups can get involved in this work.