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A Valentine’s Day we can all be a part of

calendar06 February 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

A Valentine’s Day we can all be a part of

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple months (and if so, wow - why was this one of the first websites you decided to look at?), you’ll know Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Yes, the day when we show the people we’re romantically involved with how much we love them – more often than not, by buying them stuff.

But, believe it or not, spending money isn’t the only way to show someone you love them, nor is 'romantic' love the only type of love out there. Everyone wants to feel cared for and appreciated every now and then. Friends, family, colleagues, even the friendly bus driver who always brightens your morning! So, whether you’re in a relationship this 14 February or not, you could make it a day to show all the people you appreciate having in your life how you feel about them.

  1. First, give some proper thought to what the person might like – naturally, certain things that will make one person’s day might make another feel horrendously awkward! Think about their personality type and try to remember what they appreciated in the past if you can. It tends to show in a gift if you’ve put lots of thought into it beforehand!
  2. You don’t necessarily need to go out and spend on chocolates and flowers. Make your own gifts if you’re crafty. How about home-baked mini muffins as an alternative to a pricey box of chocolates? Or DIY flowers like these ones? Don’t make buying a gift feel like an obligation just because it’s Valentine’s. Sometimes spending time on something means so much more than spending money.
  3. The simplest way to show someone you appreciate them is to tell them! Whether it’s face-to-face or over the phone, it could make their day a whole lot brighter. Why not write a letter or give them a card listing all the reasons you’re thankful they’re in your life? If it’s someone you live with, you could write the reasons on post-it notes and stick them around the house to be found throughout the day.
  4. Just hang out! Spending time with someone can be the perfect (and easiest) gift. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a big day out – going to the pub or watching a film together would work. Ask what’s going on in their life (and listen!) and show you appreciate having them around. (This is probably more of an option for friends, family and colleagues than your morning bus driver, but hey, you never know!)
  5. It’s likely there are people in your world who help to make your life easier every day without you ever really noticing it. It’s often the case that you’d only realise what they’re doing and how much it means to you if they ever stopped. So, this Valentine’s Day, why not show your appreciation by helping out more, lightening their load and making their life that little bit easier? You could roll up your sleeves and help around the house and garden for your parents, assist a colleague with their workload, or even wash your best friend’s car! Even better, it could be the perfect opportunity to spend some time together.
  6. Finally, don’t limit yourself to one day in February to show the people around you that you appreciate and care about them – we’re compelled as Christians and as humans to love each other all year round. But hey, if you feel like you aren’t doing enough of it, Valentine’s Day seems like as good a day as any to start!

Pour coffee, serve snacks, change lives

calendar01 February 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Pour coffee, serve snacks, change lives

Every day, CAP is going above and beyond to raise awareness of poverty in the UK and the funds needed to show it who’s boss. As a volunteer, I play my part by helping to keep our blog stocked up, but there’s lots going on elsewhere in the world of CAP where volunteers are much needed. A big chunk of awareness and fundraising comes from heading out to events and festivals and spreading the word face-to-face – and this is where volunteers are crucial. This year, CAP will be showing up to events all over the country, so why not join us at one for a fun and simple way to give your time and help out a great cause?

CAP is particularly in need of people to help out at this year’s Big Church Day Out. The annual festival brings together tens of thousands of Christians to enjoy worship and music in a fun, family-friendly festival environment, and this year the CAP café will be running at both the South (26 to 29 May) and new North (1 to 4 June) events. We need volunteers to help us serve and chat, keeping our customers nourished, caffeinated, hydrated, happy and informed!

When you volunteer, you’ll be working six to eight hours a day in two to three hour shifts. All your meals will be provided and we’ll help you out with transport too. The exciting news is you’ll be given a free event pass and a camping pass to the festival, leaving you free to roam around and have fun between your shifts.

By helping out at the CAP café you’ll be able to connect with lots and lots of people, playing a vital part in spreading the word about CAP to potential clients, partner churches and supporters. Don’t worry if it feels like you need a lot of experience – before you start you’ll be given plenty of training in how to run the café as well as an info pack about the work of CAP, so you’ll be ready and raring to go before you know it!

If you’re interested in volunteering at the Big Church Day Out CAP café, just fill out the form here. Below is a list of our upcoming events, many of which we may need volunteers for too, so watch this space for more info!

2017 events and festivals

  • 9 to 11 February – iKids AOG conference (Coventry)
  • 27 February to 4 March – Keswick in Devon (Sidmouth) – CAP’s Founder and International Director, John Kirkby, will be running a seminar and speaking on the main stage during one of the morning sessions
  • 11 to 14 April – Spring Harvest (Skegness)
  • 2 to 4 May – Assemblies of God Stronger Together (Bradford) – John Kirkby will be sharing his story and inviting guests on a tour of CAP's headquarters, followed by a free curry!
  • 9 to 11 May - Elim Leaders’ Summit (Harrogate)
  • 26 to 29 May - Cliff College (Sheffield)
  • 27 to 28 May - Big Church Day Out South (West Sussex)
  • 2 to 3 June – Big Church Day Out North (Cheshire)
  • 21 July - Festival of Life (Wales – specific venue TBC)
  • (Date TBC) – RCCG Ordained Ministers’ Conference (venue TBC)
  • 22 to 28 July – New Wine week 1 (Somerset)
  • 30 July to 5 August – New Wine week 2 (Somerset)
  • 2 to 4 August – Hillsong (London)
  • 25 to 29 August – ONE event (Lincoln)
  • October (date TBC) – Festival of Life (London)
  • 17 to 18 November – Christ for all Nations (London) – John Kirkby will be doing a ten-minute talk on the main stage

Why ‘lagom’ living should be your new best friend

calendar13 January 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Why ‘lagom’ living should be your new best friend

Although some people might see putting up flat pack furniture as their personal idea of hell, many in the UK are in love with Scandinavian furniture and design. Indeed, if you’ve been hanging around certain social media spheres in the last twelve months, you’ll probably have noticed the word ‘hygge’ cropping up on your news feed (I’m told it’s pronounced ‘Hue-ugh’).

Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word and can be most easily translated as ‘cosy’, the essence of the interior design trend that swept the nation in 2016. Its popularity got us all painting our rooms in warm and comforting shades, and buying as many scented candles, hot chocolates and knitted jumpers as we could carry. Let’s face it, we’re all at least a little glad that wearing comfy jumpers and drinking sweet, yummy drinks is ‘in’, especially in a wet, cold and windy January like this.

Recently, however, a new Scandinavian way of living has been catching people’s attention. Lagom (lar-gom, slightly easier to pronounce) is the Swedish word for ‘enough’ or ‘in balance’ and is based on clearing out the clutter in your life and focusing on what you really need. The ethos behind this trend – on ignoring the push to consume and fill your life with more and more stuff – is something Christians Against Poverty can get behind. Especially if it means we can embrace gratitude for what we already have.

Even better, getting on board with the lagom trend and decluttering could earn you some pennies back, which is always a welcome bonus. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Firstly, have a good look around your house for things you no longer use, or perhaps have a surplus of, like plates and cutlery for example. Rather than gathering dust in your cupboard, someone else could be using them, so why not sell them on?
  2. Make the most of social media selling. Loads of people are now selling their unwanted items online (Facebook has even added a ‘marketplace’ section so you can check out what’s for sale in your area with one swift click). Use sites like Facebook or apps like Shpock to advertise your stuff locally – that way you won’t have to travel as far to deliver or shell out for postage.
  3. You could even sell on your items the old fashioned way and see if there are any car boots sales happening in your area that you could take your old stuff along to.
  4. Importantly, avoid the irony of buying something new and trendy because it says it’s ‘lagom’. That’s really missing the point. If you’re crafty, why not try your hand at upcycling? Repair your old things or make them into something else entirely – upcycling is all about giving them a new lease of life rather than scrapping them. See upcyclethat.com for all sorts of ideas.

So whether your 2017 is going to be all about hygge or lagom (or you're going to steer clear of Scandinavian terminology altogether), the main thing is to know what you can afford and not go overboard. For advice if you're struggling with debt, call us for free on 0800 328 0006.

Budget recipe binder: Claire’s classic Toad in the Hole

calendar08 January 2017

Claire Wong's avatar Claire Wong

Budget recipe binder: Claire’s classic Toad in the Hole

I first ate this many years ago in a student kitchen on a cold wintry evening. It’s such good comfort food to fill and warm you up!

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes
Serves: 4
Total cost: £1.59 (all ingredients bought from scratch - £4.58)

Ingredients
120g plain flour (Few pence / 1.5kg – 45p)
4 eggs (59p / Half a dozen – 89p)
300ml milk (Few pence / 2.3 litres - £1.00)
6 sausages (94p / Pack of 8 - £1.25)
Salt and pepper
5 tbsp vegetable oil (Few pence / 1 litre – 99p)
Optional: if you’ve got any herbs in the back of the cupboard, a bit of rosemary or thyme is great with this!

Method
Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6.
Mix the flour with a pinch of salt and some pepper in a bowl.
Beat the four eggs into the flour and slowly add in the milk. Keep beating until there are no lumps in the batter. (Top tip: If you’re really struggling to get rid of the lumps, then once the batter is fairly smooth and thick, you can strain it through a sieve.)
If you’re using any herbs, add them to the batter now.
Cook the sausages with a tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan until they are golden brown all over.
Pour the rest of the oil in an ovenproof dish and heat in the oven until it’s properly hot and sizzling.
Take the dish out of the oven. Add the sausages (make sure they’re fairly evenly spaced out in the dish) and then pour the batter over them. Put the dish back in the oven pronto!
After 35-40 minutes the batter should have risen and be a beautiful golden brown. Take it out and enjoy with veg and gravy or whatever you fancy!

Ten ways to save money in 2017

calendar05 January 2017

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Ten ways to save money in 2017

It’s a new year and the perfect time for your finances to have a fresh start. New Year’s resolution? Save money!

1. Make a budget. Here at CAP we bang on about budgets A LOT. But that’s only because it’s so important! Getting your head around your income and expenditure can help to prevent you from running into real financial trouble in the future. Start today and see if you can keep it up every month for the rest of the year! For a free course with expert, practical money management advice, get signed up to your nearest CAP Money Course here.

2. A recent report by the Money Advice Service revealed that more than 16 million Brits have less than £100 in savings. Savings can be a safety net in case of unexpected disasters – what if the house floods or the car breaks down? Even with insurance, you’ll need to pay an excess, so having a bank of savings to fall back on is essential. Skint Dad’s 1p per day savings challenge could be the ideal place to start.

3. If the last two tips have filled you with dread thinking ’I’m already on a low income and struggling to cope as it is!’ then check out CAP Life Skills, a free, friendly course with practical sessions on shopping, cooking and living better within your means.

4. If you’re a car owner, it’s likely you’ll see a significant drain on your finances caused by car insurance at some point in the year. Money Saving Expert suggests car insurance prices have risen by 16% since last year, so it’s worth looking at ways to bring down the ever-rising cost. For some excellent tips, click here.

5. Did you know 79% of people who took part in Dry January last year say they saved money? The month-long no-alcohol campaign aims to show the health and savings benefits of kicking the booze. Find out how many pennies and calories you could save in a month without drinking here - after all, it doesn't matter if you've missed Dry January, why not task yourself with a Dry February, Dry Summer, or go for a completely Dry 2017? It's in your hands. If you feel your drinking, smoking, gambling or other habit is controlling your life, CAP Release Groups could help.

6. In the UK, we throw away seven million tonnes of food every year – half of which is perfectly edible! Even more shockingly, for an average family with children this equates to a loss of £60 per month, or £700 per year! This year, make the most of your food leftovers and your bank balance will surely thank you - click here for some tasty leftover recipe ideas.

7. If you’re a slave to credit and find you’re often tempted to buy more than you can realistically afford, why not make it your mission this year to opt for cash instead? Draw out your allowance in cash at the start of the month and once it’s gone, it’s gone! Although it takes discipline to stick to it, this is an invaluable way to spend less and take control of your finances.

8. Of course the easiest way to increase your savings is to increase your income, but this can prove difficult when you’re struggling to find work. CAP Job Clubs are designed to give you the skills and self-belief to go out there and get yourself a job. The programme helps more than 350 people find work every year – could you be one of them? Click here to get started.

9. This blog is regularly updated with everyday money saving advice, including budget recipe ideas, top tips and more. Keep an eye out for new posts!

10. Finally, one thing that can make your finances easier to deal with is being honest and open with the people around you. Don’t ever be afraid to talk to your friends, family, partner or children if you’re struggling. Even if they’re not able to help per se, the fact that they know and understand will take pressure off you and give you breathing space to get yourself sorted. Happy 2017!

For free debt advice and to find out more about any of CAP’s services, call 0800 328 0006. Help is available to all, regardless of age, gender, faith and background.

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