Over the last few weeks I have been on the CAP Engage placement and I have absolutely loved it! It’s been amazing to see first-hand how well the Debt Help, CAP Job Clubs and CAP Release Groups work; to hear stories on a daily basis of lives changed, and to play a part in releasing people from debt and poverty. It’s impossible not to be swept up in the vision, to catch the passion that is the driving force of CAP’s ministries.
In the midst of the wellie-wearing, shower-hunting, CAP-representing madness of New Wine I managed to read Journeys of Hope, and was absolutely blown away. Give it a read. I love how CAP works in such personal and practical ways, and it brings me hope to see local churches getting practically involved in their communities, walking alongside the lonely, scared and vulnerable.
I’ve also been really struck by how everyday at Head Office orbits around prayer. We take time to pray for anyone and everyone: clients, supporters, staff and volunteers. What an incredible way to acknowledge Jesus as the cornerstone of all that CAP does.
My final highlight has been seeing how CAP takes celebration to a whole new level. Head Office is quite simply fun! At various points in the day a hubbub of noise will sweep across the room: harmonicas and a Mexican wave if someone has gone debt free, whistles if someone has got a job or reached a release group milestone! It is so good to take a moment from the task you’re working on to recapture the big picture, to mark significant moments in the lives of CAP clients.
So now I’m in my third week and am already dreading next Friday – I don’t want Engage to end! (Hopefully this will be a “see you again soon” rather than goodbye!) I’m planning on carrying CAP’s prayerful, celebratory culture with me as I take my next steps. And I’ve been reminded of how, when we put all of our energy and passion behind something, we are capable of bringing about amazing change.
If you’re looking for an inspiring work placement, where you are valued as an individual and get a chance to join in with CAP’s incredible work, then I would wholeheartedly recommend applying for Engage. What are you waiting for? Go go go!
Engage is a fantastic opportunity to use your Easter or Summer holiday to make a difference, learn some new skills and become part of the CAP family. Find out more about what the one month placement involves by clicking here.
The hard road out of debt
19 August 2015
CAP’s heart for helping people out of life’s isolating struggles is something I thank God for bringing into the world because I understand how devastating debt can be...
I graduated in 2001 and entered into freelance work and the irregular income that entails. I was struggling to make ends meet. The head-in-the-sand survival mode was in full swing – just ignoring things and hoping for a change to come.
I had become more and more depressed under these pressures and, although I was a Christian, my joy began to be suffocated by the fear and isolation of my situation. I slipped into a deep depression, slackened off in church attendance and pretty much stopped socialising with friends. Shame and fear had me paralysed. Suicide was a serious consideration on many occasions.
My shame about making a mess of my life made me feel unworthy of anyone’s help, even God’s! Gradually I realised that if I didn’t want my future to look this way forever I would have to change something.
In 2007, I finally found the courage to look at my finances and was shocked to discover they now totaled £45,000! I remember thinking it was "suicide levels of debt", but I also felt God saying that, if I would face this seemingly impossible mountain, I wouldn’t be doing it alone – he would help me every step. I ditched my pride, faced my situation honestly and spoke out to get help from people.
Today I am, amazingly, almost finished on my journey to debt freedom: 2016 will see me debt free! It’s been a hard journey, one that I know would have been quicker and easier if there’d been a CAP Debt Centre in my area. That’s why I am so keen to support them in their work to reach more people across the UK who need help.
If you are struggling with money, addiction or job issues don’t struggle alone like I did – contacting CAP will provide help you never thought possible. I know if I could get out of the hole I was in then anyone can. Have faith that it can change for you too. Call 0800 328 0006 or find out more here.
Colin is volunteering with CAP on the Engage programme; a one month placement at Head Office with the opportunity to represent CAP at a Christian conference. If you are interested in finding out more about Engage click here.
Thank you from our Whitby client break
05 August 2015
This summer, 460 clients are having a short break on us – it’s a chance to relax, discuss important issues like worry and forgiveness, and enjoy time together as a family. These breaks are often the first time people have been away in years. At the end of July, we popped over to call in at our Whitby break – we handed out messages sent in from our supporters. Those who received them wanted to thank you, our supporters, for making the break possible.
Ten top tips for managing money at university
29 July 2015
Starting life at university is a big change in many ways, not least in having to take greater responsibilities over finances. Students go from having tens of pounds in pocket money to thousands of pounds in student grants and loans.
So here’s ten tips for how to manage and save money while at uni:
Set a budget – organising and managing a budget doesn’t fill anyone with excitement but it can be really helpful, especially for breaking down your initial lump sum of student loan into manageable chunks. Make a note of your income for the term and the main bills you will have to pay before setting a rough amount for what you can spend each week. Go on the free CAP Money Course, or if there's not one in your area The Student Calculator is a great resource for taking you through this process.
Leave the card at home – consider taking out a certain amount of cash for the week and only using that. When using a card all the time it can be easy to lose track of how much you’ve spent; when you’re out of cash, you’re out of cash.
Walk or cycle where possible – while saving money (and the environment), there’s nothing like a nice cycle to perk you up for a 9am lecture!
Grab the discounts – everyone loves a bargain and if you’re a student, you now have a whole world of offers open to you! An NUS extra card (National Union of Students) costs £12 for the year and gives you discounts on everything from food shopping (10% off at the Co-operative) to entertainment (25% off the student price at ODEON cinemas). On top of that, these websites are full of deals: studentmoneysaver.co.uk; studentbeans.com
Prepare your own food – one of the best things about university is having the time to meet up for coffee with friends or to go out for lunch after classes. However the cost of this adds up quickly; make a habit of taking your own lunch onto campus so you’re not tempted!
Don't food shop on an empty stomach – it’s the classic bit of advice from mum, but definitely worth following. You’ll spend less time salivating in the bakery aisle and instead get on with buying what you need. Make sure you make a list beforehand too!
Freeze food! Freezers are fantastic; you can stock up on items from the reduced section, or cook something in bulk and keep it for another time.
Buy a 16-25 railcard – saving you 30% off train travel this is a worthwhile investment. Although costing £30 up front, you will save more than this even from only buying a return ticket home at the end of each term.
Have a spare change jar – if you collect enough of those loose pennies you can turn them into nice new notes at the bank.
Check out grants and bursaries available via your university. There are lots out there and this can start before you get to uni; teachers at school may be able to recommend you to local educational charities, and even the Vegetarian Society offers grants of up to £500 for committed vegetarians and vegans!
Visit capmoneycourse.org to find a CAP Money Course for students near you and get to grips with creating and juggling your budget whilst at university.
Schools Out Summer Survival Guide
12 July 2015
Most kids can’t wait for to it start and most parents can’t wait for it to end. Yes, it’s the school summer holidays – and it’s fast approaching. It’s hard to remember exactly what we did as kids for six whole weeks, so coming up with ideas to fill the time can be difficult. To help you get started, here are CAP’s top tips to keep the kids entertained without breaking the bank account:
Movie club – Most cinemas cost a fortune so get together with some other parents and take it in turns to host a movie night once a week. Save money on snacks by making popcorn from kernels on the hob (see www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_popcorn); you can get a 500g bag for just 99p and it’s fun to watch them pop in the pan. Second-hand DVDs are just as good, so have a hunt in the charity shops, or check out CeX uk.webuy.com where you can not only buy cheap films, but also make some cash selling your old ones.
Build a den – Fun for kids and adults alike, grab some bed sheets, pillows, pegs and whatever ever you can find and get to work on creating your own fort. If the weather is good, create your den in the garden where you can lay down and star gaze, whilst pretending you’re explorers on a great expedition!
Junior Bake off – Teach your kids some skills whilst having fun, with your own mini version of the Junior Bake-off. Invite their friends over, set some challenges and then have the parents judge the final creations. For some recipe ideas that won’t cost you the earth, check out BBC Good Food’s cheap baking: bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/cheap-baking
Geocache – If you haven’t heard of this real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game, then check out geocaching.com. All you need is GPS on your mobile phone or a GPS device, then using sets of coordinates, the aim is to find containers that have been hidden at various locations. The great thing is that there are Geocaches all over the world, so there’s no limit to where this can be played!
Pot painting – Get crafty with the kids, and spruce up some of your old plant pots at the same time, by painting them with bright new designs. Tester paint pots cost around a pound each from your local DIY shop, so a cheaper alternative idea if you want a few colours. You can then waterproof your pots using a simple seal-like solution made with PVA glue and a little water.
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