20 for twenty challenge: could you do something extraordinary to help the UK’s poorest?

calendar27 September 2016

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

20 for twenty challenge: could you do something extraordinary to help the UK’s poorest?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for several months, you’ll no doubt have heard that this year Christians Against Poverty turns 20! And during our 20th year we’re trying to help over 20,000 people break free from poverty through our debt help, job clubs, release groups and life skills initiatives.

The thing is, transforming lives doesn’t come cheap. To fund one debt counsellor for just two days, it costs £187. And without your continued support, we could never hope to keep helping thousands of people from across the country, year in - year out.

That’s why from 3 to 23 October this year, we’re inviting everyone to get involved in CAP’s 20 for twenty challenge and do something extraordinary to help battle poverty in the UK. Here at CAP our staff have come up with all sorts of weird and wacky ideas to raise funds, from climbing 20 mountains, to sleeping in a car for 20 nights, to baking 20 apple pies. Even our own CEO, Matt Barlow, is doing his bit by living on £1 per day for 20 days. Talk about commitment!

Not your cup of tea? Why not give up something for 20 days? Get your friends to sponsor you as you go cold turkey on alcohol, smoking, coffee, meat, sugary food and drinks or whatever else you can think of – plus there’s the added bonus on living more healthily while you fundraise!  You could even add the money you would have spent on whatever you’ve given up to your total amount.

You could grow a beard for 20 days, give up your car, give up shoes or wear fancy dress for 20 days. Get silly and have fun and get your friends and family involved. Got a better idea? That’s great – get creative! With this challenge, there are tons of possibilities.

Still not sure what to do? We’ve listed lots of activities you could try at, so you’ll not be short of ideas. They’re all to do with the number 20, of course, but don’t worry if that’s too much. You can do as little or as much as you are able to raise funds. After all, every little really does help and our combined efforts are sure to make a big difference!

Once you’ve come up with a plan of action, head to to sign up and let us know what you’re doing. If your idea isn’t there just scroll down to the bottom of the screen and select the box ‘Your Choice?’ From there you’ll be taken to the form you need to fill in to take part. You’ll also need to make a JustGiving page (or similar) so people can sponsor you. It’s quick to sign up and free, so why not get started now before October comes around and start drumming up support by sharing the link with your friends, family and colleagues? The earlier you start collecting sponsors, the more money you could collect.

For twenty years, Christians Against Poverty has been teaching and helping people all around the country to get out of debt, joblessness and addictions. With your help, we’ll be able to keep helping people for many, many years to come. What could you do in twenty days to help fight poverty in the UK?

Budget recipe binder: Cottage pie

calendar22 September 2016

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Budget recipe binder: Cottage pie

One of the easiest and most all-round satisfying meals there is, the whole family will be happy with this classic cottage pie for tea. Why not make a bigger batch and freeze the leftovers for next week?

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves: 4
Total cost: £2.82* (all ingredients bought from scratch £6.94)

One large onion (20p)
Splash of vegetable oil (a few pence – one litre 99p)
300g frozen minced beef (98p – one kg £3.25)
300g frozen mixed veg (30p – one kg £1.00)
Water, boiled in kettle
4-6 tbsp gravy granules (a few pence – 100g 20p)
800g potatoes, peeled (80p)
100g grated cheddar (50p - 500g £2.50)

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.
Chop the onion and fry in the vegetable oil until they start to brown.
Add the mince and fry for ten minutes.
Add the veg, mix together and pour in enough water to just cover.
Bring back to the boil, then cover and simmer for half an hour. Keep an eye out that it doesn’t boil dry.
Meanwhile, set the potatoes to boil for 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the mince mixture from the heat. Add the gravy granules, using more or less depending on how thick you want the sauce. Stir until smooth.
Drain the potatoes and mash with a bit of milk or butter if you fancy.
Transfer the mince mixture into an overproof dish, cover with the mash and top with the cheese. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese turns golden brown.

Frozen mince and vegetables are ideal because they last longer than fresh and you can cook them straight from the freezer. For a vegetarian version of this recipe, go for soya protein beef-style mince (454g £1.50) from the frozen aisle – you’ll be surprised how much it tastes like the real thing!

*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing

Stop smoking for Stoptober

calendar20 September 2016

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Stop smoking for Stoptober

Since 2012, the NHS and others have been campaigning for smokers to brave it in October and quit for 28 days through an initiative called Stoptober. So far, around a million people have taken up the challenge. With 215,000 people taking part in last year’s Stoptober, organisers hope for even more to get involved in this year’s campaign.

Quitting for just 28 days has been found to make you five times more likely to stop smoking for good. What’s more, quitting as part of a supportive group can improve your chances even further. If you quit with your friends, family or co-workers this Stoptober, you know they will be there to offer support and advice.

By signing up for Stoptober you’ll be entitled to a free support pack as well as regular emails and texts giving you information and support. There’s also the Stoptober app which is free to download onto your phone and the whole month is well supported on social media. The NHS Smokefree website’s Stopblog regularly releases articles, videos and podcasts which you can subscribe to for even more encouragement. Just head to to get signed up.

Christians Against Poverty is also keen to back you in your quest to go smoke-free. 71 CAP Release Groups are currently running in churches and communities around the UK and are here to help people break free from a wide range of life-controlling habits and dependencies such as smoking. The courses span eight sessions and offer free emotional and practical support in an environment of security and trust.

Why is CAP involved? Smoking hits your bank balance every bit as much as your health. If you don’t believe us, check here to see how much you’d save if you quit

Smoking addiction is a huge problem in the UK with eight million people smoking in England and almost 80,000 smoking-related deaths recorded every year. However, huge changes are already in progress, with a decline in smoking of 37% over the last 50 years.

If you, or anyone you know, wants to join in with this year’s Stoptober – or if you want help quitting smoking right away – visit the NHS Smokefree website at

To find out more about CAP Release Groups, whether you’re interested in signing up or running one through your local church, see the CAP website at

Absolutely no panicking allowed

calendar16 September 2016

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Absolutely no panicking allowed

I don’t want to get you into a panic, but I’m sure you know there are, as of today, a hundred days till Christmas. If you’re like me, every year you swear that next year you’ll prepare for Christmas, get everyone’s presents well ahead of time and then, when it comes round again, the same thing happens. You find yourself stuck fighting the crowds again, with just a few days to go. If you’re living on a budget already, Christmas time can hit your wallet hard. So if you haven’t done it already, for the good of your state of mind (and for the good of your bank balance) it’s time to start planning right now.

The first step is setting a goal and the second is sticking to it. So, set a hard limit on what you can realistically spend on things like food, drinks and presents for the family and stick to it. I don’t know about you but once I can say to myself, “THIS is how much I will spend on Christmas this year” the process becomes a lot clearer and easier to break down. Check out to gain some great tips.

The next step is to work out how to get to your goal. Usually the simplest way is to put aside small amounts often rather than in one go. If you’re paid monthly, there are four monthly pay days before Christmas Day. Most banks offer a regular savings account so it takes a small amount from your regular account automatically.

If you’re part of a credit union or would like to join one, many of them offer Christmas club savings schemes. Take a look at Savings Stamps and Christmas Club Schemes where you can pay in regular amounts, effectively buying in bits, and soon it’ll add up to a lot.

Remember if you shop at the same supermarket all the time, it might be a good idea to get a customer loyalty card and save up points for the big Christmas shop. You can save points or buy stamps – do your homework and compare the deals on offer.

Some people start up a Christmas box at this time of year, buying a few bits to get ahead in the run up to the festivities. This can really work but don't let it stop you deciding on your spending limits.

Have you considered taking on a Christmas job to boost your income? Most retailers and the Royal Mail recruit from September but it's worth popping your head round the door of local restaurants who are likely to need extra hands on deck for the Christmas season.

This bit is important: don’t freeze up in a panic and do nothing to prepare. Do something while you’re in September. This next bit is even more important: the most valuable thing is the time you spend with the people you love the most.

Budget recipe binder: Veg korma

calendar31 August 2016

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Budget recipe binder: Veg korma

Curry night doesn’t have to be a write-off when you’re on a budget. Pop the takeaway menu in the drawer and make your own instead. Why not treat your family to this veggie-friendly meal this week for less than £3?

Preparation time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
Total cost: £2.92 (plus £1 for four naans or 50p for a pouch of own-brand microwaveable basmati)

One aubergine (50p) cubed
Three medium carrots (18p) sliced finely, as they will take the longest to cook
Two large potatoes (60p) cubed
One large onion (14p) roughly chopped
Two heaped tsp medium curry powder (tub that will do at least five of these recipes £1)
One tin of coconut milk (50p)

Boil a small amount of water in the kettle.
Heat a splash of oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown.
Add the curry powder.
Then add the vegetables and potatoes and stir them around to soak up all of the flavours.
Add a medium sized mug of boiling water from the kettle, to ensure the veggies don’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
Pop on the lid, turn down the heat and let them simmer until the potatoes start to soften.
Add the coconut milk, stir, and while that’s warming through zap the rice in the microwave or warm your naan bread under a medium grill.

Experiment with different veg – this recipe is great for using up odds and ends in the bottom of the fridge such as cauliflower, mushrooms, green beans and peas. Add protein with a drained tin of chickpeas (35p).

*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing

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