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For the future

calendar22 May 2017

Karen Grima's avatar Karen Grima

For the future

Do you know any children? Do you want to see them grow up with the ability to make good financial decisions? So do we! We believe that teaching young people to manage their money well is vitally important – which is why we want to tell you about My Money Week.

My Money Week is a national activity week for primary and secondary schools, brought to you by the Personal Finance Education Group. It provides a fantastic opportunity for young people to gain the skills, knowledge and confidence in money matters to thrive in our society.

Maybe you read our email a few weeks ago about our CAP Money Kids and Youth resources? This would be the perfect opportunity to make the most of running these courses in your local school, or asking someone to run them for you.

Everyone’s going to be talking about money in schools that week, so why not use this opportunity to share our fun, practical and engaging church-run course with the young people in your community?

For more information on our CAP Money Kids and Youth courses, click here or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). If you’re a CAP Money Coach already – go ahead and join the hundreds of others running a course in their local school this June and be an active part of My Money Week.

Martin Lewis, one of CAP’s biggest fans, supports My Money Week. He says, ‘Teaching our young people about how money works is crucial to enable them to have a role in our competitive consumer economy, both understanding how it works from a company’s perspective but crucially being a good consumer too – because being good with money can make your life easier, and being bad impacts far more than people think.’

How will you get involved?

My Money Week is brought to you by the Personal Finance Education Group, which is not affiliated with Christians Against Poverty. CAP runs its own financial education courses for young people through local churches. To find out more about My Money Week, click here.

Offline and shut out

calendar17 May 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Offline and shut out

These days, it’s almost impossible to ignore the internet’s presence.

You’re using the internet to read this sentence, right now.

This sentence is also on the internet.

I don’t want to make you feel too weird about it but… HELLO THERE!

For many, it’s the first thing you look at when you wake up and the last thing you see before you go to bed. Over 41.8 million adults in the UK now use the internet every day. For better or worse, it affects how we see the world. It lets us stay connected to our friends and family, it lets us communicate our thoughts, spread jokes and share our photos. For many of us, it’s the only way we learn about the news and so many other things.

But, there are a lot of people, here in the UK, who can’t get online. More than a fifth of CAP clients have no connection to the internet whatsoever. There are 5.2 million households in the UK who are not using the web and many more whose internet is limited, and it’s here where you can find some really big problems for people struggling with debt. Such a lot of things like price comparison sites, energy deals, banking, jobsites or Universal Credit applications are all online. It can mean many people find themselves shut out of things that could make a difference to their situation.

One way around this problem is to use your local library for internet access. However, it can be complicated. A lot of people aren’t comfortable entering their private information into a public computer. One lady CAP is helping, Rebecca, found the time limits on the library computers and the limited numbers of free computers made it difficult to find work. Volunteers from her CAP Debt Centre have offered her use of their internet, but even though this helped the problem, she was uncomfortable about being seen as taking advantage.

Martine was a CAP client unfamiliar with computers and suffered with severe arthritis, making filling out the online application for Universal Credit a struggle. A volunteer from the local CAP Debt Centre volunteered to help her use a computer at the Jobcentre. It took a couple of trips to collect all the paperwork needed from her home. At this time, she had no income and without this support she wouldn’t have been able to get help from the Jobcentre. It’s easy to see how missing a simple thing like the internet can cause huge problems further along.

Do you know anyone who struggles with these issues? Do you live in an internet black hole? Is there anything you or your church can do to lend a hand?

Organisations and companies need to do more too. Keep Me Posted UK is campaigning for more fairness for those without internet use and for people to be given more choice in how firms maintain contact with them. Certainly, in this growing digital world, it’s an issue that’s not going away any time soon.

Click here to read the full report from CAP.

Five reasons to sort out your will now

calendar16 May 2017

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Five reasons to sort out your will now

Making a will? Leaving a legacy? Isn't that kind of morbid? You're not likely to be alone in asking that question, but honestly, thinking about these things has its perks – not to mention it’s really important. Not only can we find peace of mind in knowing our affairs are in order way ahead of schedule, but we can be sure that our loved ones and the things we care about are secure after we’re gone. You might think there isn't any point in it, especially if you don't have children or any assets of great worth, but it’s so worthwhile – here are our top five reasons why.

  1. Without a will, your estate won't necessarily go to your partner. Everything you own is classed as an asset, from a house to a rug to the family pet, and these make up your ‘estate’. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee your estate will automatically go to your partner, even if you’re married or in a civil partnership, if they aren’t specifically named on your will. Without a will, you run the risk of your estate being shared out in any which way, or indeed going to the government. According to the Money Advice Service, the total value that went to the government last year from people not leaving a will was £8 million!
  2. Unless your will designates guardians of your children, the court may decide who takes care of them. Not only could your estate hang in the balance if you don’t leave a will, but custody of your kids too. That's a pretty horrible thought, isn't it? What’s more, the amount of your estate that your children are entitled to will vary depending on where you live in the UK, meaning they could feasibly end up with little or nothing. Making these important decisions today may seem difficult, but it could remove unnecessary stress for your family after you’re gone.
  3. A will is not just about who gets what, it says who gets to make these important financial decisions too. You wouldn’t want a stranger taking the contents of your bag and sharing them out as they please, so why let this happen to your estate? In your will you’ll be able to name your ‘executor’, which is actually a good thing despite it sounding a bit intimidating! Your executor (which can be one or more people) will be responsible for ensuring your will is stuck to, so you can rest in the knowledge that your affairs will be left in trusted hands.
  4. You can reduce your Inheritance Tax Bill by leaving a charitable legacy in your will. Yes, on top of everything else, leaving a will could actually save you and your loved ones money. If you leave 10% or more of your estate to charity, the government will reduce the rate of inheritance tax on your estate by 10%. Currently, if the value of your estate is worth more than £325,000, you will be taxed 40% on anything above that level. However, the government will reduce the tax rate to 36% for anyone pledging to give 10% or more of their estate's value to charity.
  5. It’s easy to review your will if and when your circumstances change. Some people worry that making a will means these decisions are set in stone, which is understandable in a society that's constantly chopping and changing. However, you can (and should) review your will from time to time to ensure your wishes are still current and there’s no cause for dispute when the time comes.

CAP helps more than 20,000 people across its services every year, with 91% saying it was 'life transforming' or 'a great help'. Would you consider leaving us a legacy in your will? Click here to find out more.

A well deserved break

calendar27 April 2017

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

A well deserved break

Discovery Breaks are always a highlight of the CAP calendar, and last week saw the annual Northern Ireland break rocking and rolling in Castlewellan. A beautiful castle overlooking the Mourne Mountains, Castlewellan has for several years offered the perfect setting for a stunning few days.

Discovery Breaks offer our clients a chance to step back from their everyday lives, which are often especially stressful. They’re an opportunity for them to spend quality time with their families and reconnect, as well as overcome severe isolation, meeting other clients in similar situations and building new friendships.

For many of these families, it’s the first break they’ve had in years, if ever.

That’s one of the reasons it’s such a privilege to be able to offer that escape. Over the course of the break, the clients are treated to fun activities, pampering sessions, great food and a chance to learn more about the Christian faith, the foundations behind why we do what we do at CAP.

The Castlewellan break is run solely by CAP Northern Ireland frontline workers. This time it was headed up by Alison Flanagan (Northern Ireland Area Manager), alongside David Kelly (Causeway Coast Centre Manager) and Jacqui Robb (Carrickfergus Centre Manager). When the break kicked off on 18 April, 73 guests arrived – an amazing turn out!

For David, this break was particularly special, coming just before he steps down from his role as a CAP Centre Manager. David’s role on the break was all about praying and connecting with clients, preparing and delivering talks, and inspiring the staff team. ‘It left me exhausted and buzzing inside!’ he says. ‘The best thing was seeing people’s faces physically change from when they arrived to when they left; they just looked brighter, less like the weight of the world was on their shoulders. Obviously their situations at home may still be complex and stressful, but it’s brilliant to think they were leaving with a renewed attitude and perspective. It’s amazing what a difference a few days can make!’

Most importantly, our clients always seem to have a great time. Terry’s life was just one transformed by the Castlewellan break. ‘The CAP Debt Centre told me about a weekend away they do,’ he explains. ‘I went and it was brilliant. We went for walks around Castlewellan, which was beautiful. It was good to meet others in the same situation, to know you're not alone.’

Read more about our Discovery Breaks and how you can give a family fighting to get out of debt the chance to relax, rebuild relationships and be transformed!

How can I help a friend or family member who has an addiction?

calendar20 April 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

How can I help a friend or family member who has an addiction?

This weekend marks the 27th Worldwide Weekend of Prayer for the Addicted, when Christians around the world come together in prayer and action on behalf of people trapped in life-controlling dependencies. It’s not hard to see how addiction of any kind has the power to destroy people’s lives and the lives of those around them, whether it’s smoking, drinking, substance abuse, gambling, eating, shopping or something else. It can affect anything from your physical health to your work life, your social life to your bank balance.

If you find that a friend or a family member is battling an addiction, it’s likely they have a long fight ahead of them and having the support of loved ones will be paramount. You may be feeling pretty helpless, and indeed it may be down to medical professionals and trained support workers to help them quit for good, but what can you do in the meantime?

1. The best step to take early on is to avoid being scared to talk about the addiction. Often an elephant in the room left to its own devices will grow and grow, ultimately taking over. You should be honest about your feelings and talk to the person about the effect their addiction is having. Perhaps if they see how the addiction is affecting those around them, they’ll have a strong motivator to change. At the very least they’ll feel less alone and isolated once they know you’re on their side. These kinds of conversations are never going to be easy, but just be honest and empathetic with them and keep pressing on.

2. Spending time with the person suffering, even if you’re not talking about their problems in particular, is worthwhile. Sadly a lot of people develop these habits as a way of dealing with their emotions and to ‘numb’ difficult feelings such as loneliness, so try to keep them company and socialise with them as often as you can. Encourage them to stay away from situations, places or people that might entice them back to the habit. Rather, give them other ways to keep busy – depending on what exactly they're struggling with, you could try going to the gym and using up some energy through exercise, or take up a hobby like clay pigeon shooting or kick boxing as a way of channeling stress. Again, this might take a lot of time and energy on your part, but persevere. Don’t give up!

3. You can also help by researching what information and support is available. There are lots of resources online that will help you to better understand the situation, how to tackle it and how to be supportive, as well as stories from people who are going through similar problems. The NHS website is a good place to start as it offers advice and information on all sorts of addictions.

For advice on drug addictions, from alcohol and tobacco to drugs that aren’t legal in the UK but are still frighteningly common:

For unhealthy gambling habits:

For alcohol addiction and abuse:

For smoking:

For unhealthy eating habits, including addictions to food, anorexia and bulimia:

4. Remember, it’s unlikely you can solve the problem completely on your own. Don’t be disheartened if your efforts seem to be in vain at first. Studies show that people are ultimately more likely to listen to advice from professionals than friends or family. While it’s important to support them and keep them occupied, the best thing you can do is point them in the direction of those trained to understand why these issues have occurred and how to deal with them.

5. Unfortunately, there is often a stigma around the idea of seeking professional help and you might need to keep in mind that only the person struggling with the addiction can make that decision. Of course, people are more likely to change if they actually want to change, so it might be a case of gradually talking to them about the issue, showing them the benefits of quitting and helping them to make their own choice. Be prepared with the research you’ve done on sources of support, should they ask.

6. Pray! As Christians, our best weapon in the fight against addiction is God's powerful love. During the Worldwide Weekend of Prayer for the Addicted, people will be dedicating time to praying for sufferers everywhere to be released, so whether it's something close to home or not it's so worthwhile getting involved.

7. Finally, you could refer your loved one to a CAP Release Group. Run through local churches, the groups are designed to help people struggling with unhealthy habits, such as smoking, gambling or shopping, through a combination of emotional and practical support in a friendly environment. Richard, who took part in his local release group last year, said, ‘I’d been smoking for about 24 years. The CAP Release Group taught me about changing my habits. In the morning I would usually have a coffee which I associated with cigarettes; now instead I have tea which I associate with biscuits! Since I quit smoking, my health is better, my budgeting is better and the money I’m saving is going towards getting my own place.’

If you think you or someone you know would benefit from the course, visit capreleasegroups.org to find your nearest. Would you like to set up your own CAP Release Group and help transform lives in your community? Give us a call on 01274 760595 or email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to find out more.

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