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How to find support in the cost of living crisis

calendar04 May 2022

Author: Claire Wong

How to find support in the cost of living crisis

If you’re watching your bills and weekly shop go up in cost and worrying about how to find support in the cost of living crisis, you’re not alone. Right now, the majority of us are being affected by price increases, and that can mean it’s harder to pay the bills or stay out of debt.* If that’s you, do you know what help is available?

At Christians Against Poverty, we have 25 years’ experience helping people escape the weight of debt and financial crisis. And we want everyone to be equipped to access all the support they need.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to some of the free services you can use. So here are six ideas to help you find support in the cost of living crisis.

 

1. Check what benefits you’re entitled to

Whether you’re already getting benefits or just wondering if you might qualify for them, you can use a free calculator to check that you’re receiving everything you should be. Use a benefits calculator like this one at entitledto.co.uk to find out what benefits you’re eligible for.

2. Get help paying your utility bills

There are grants available to help with energy and water bills for some customers so it's definitely worth checking if you could apply for one of these. Find out more about grants at Turn2Us.

 

3. Find budgeting help

If you’d like help with setting up a budget as well as other useful advice on managing your household finances, why not try a local CAP Money Course? Our free courses are designed to help you get on top of your money, feel confident about budgeting, and even start to save for the future.

 

4. You might be able to get a grant from the Household Support Fund 

The Household Support Fund allows local councils to offer small grants to vulnerable households who need support with things like paying for utilities, clothes and food. Some councils will directly contact anyone who qualifies, while others will ask you to apply to them, so have a look at your council’s website to see what their process is.

 

5. Check if you can pay less Council Tax

It’s worth finding out if you might be paying more Council Tax than you need to. There are reductions available for people on low incomes, and if you’re the only adult in your house then your bill can reduce by 25%. Citizens Advice provides a full list of when you can pay less for you Council Tax.

6. Find free Debt Help

More people are getting into debt because of their energy bills this year than before.** Christians Against Poverty offers face-to-face debt help through our 600 debt centres around the UK. We won’t ever judge you, and our award-winning service is completely free of charge. If the rising cost of living has tipped you into unmanageable debt, use our postcode search to find your nearest CAP Debt Centre or give us a call on 0800 328 0006.

 

Whatever you do, if you’re worried about the rising cost of living, please don’t struggle alone. Contact one of the organisations above for help, or browse our range of free services to find the support that's right for you. 

 

*The Office for National Statistics has published statistics on the higher cost of living and its impact on individuals in Great Britain: November 2021 to April 2022: "Around 9 in 10 (87%) adults reported an increase in their cost of living over the previous month in March 2022... among those who pay energy bills, around 4 in 10 (43%) reported that it was very or somewhat difficult to afford their energy bills in March 2022... Of adults currently paying off a mortgage and/or loan, or rent, or shared ownership, 30% reported that it was very or somewhat difficult to afford housing costs, and 3% claimed to be behind on rent or mortgage payments, in March 2022... 17% reported borrowing more money or using more credit than they did a year ago, in March 2022" 

**Money Advice Trust: National Debtline service found the proportion of callers with energy debt significantly higher so far this year compared to 2021 (32% in 2022, up from 23% in 2021).

Celebrating Easter: four meaningful ways to focus on Jesus this year

calendar13 April 2022

Author: Claire Wong

Celebrating Easter: four meaningful ways to focus on Jesus this year

Easter is the most important event in the Christian calendar, as well as being a popular holiday for those who love chocolate! From the death of Jesus on the cross on Good Friday, to the victorious joy of the empty tomb on Easter Sunday, this is a time when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and what it means for each of us. 

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!”

Luke 24:2-6

Easter reminds us that we have the hope of new life with Jesus, total forgiveness and a fresh start. It tells us that we are more loved and valued by God than we could ever imagine. But amid our busy lives it can sometimes feel hard to give proper space to celebrate something so life-changing. 

Of course, there are many different ways of commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus, with Christians around the world bringing a rich variety of cultural variations to the festivities. What are your traditions when it comes to celebrating Easter?

Ideas for celebrating Easter

If you’re looking for ways to make space for your faith by celebrating Easter intentionally this year, here are a few ways you can mark the occasion.

  • - Use music to set the tone for Easter. Listen to a worship song that expresses thanks for what Jesus has done for us. 
  • - Read one of the Biblical accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection. You could start with the Last Supper and take a chapter at a time, allowing yourself space to reflect on each part of the story.
  • - Pray for those who need the hope of Jesus this Easter. If this is something you’d like to do on an ongoing basis, there are free prayer resources on our website.
  • - Do something fun! Easter is a time to celebrate what Jesus has done for us, which means there’s space for laughter and relaxation too. Whether that’s a meal with family, a chocolate egg hunt (for the children or the grown ups!) or a day out with your friends, remember there can be spiritual life in the joyful things as well as the solemn ones.

However you’re celebrating this year, we wish you a happy Easter, from everyone here at Christians Against Poverty!

The fundraising journey – shorter than you might think…

calendar11 April 2022

Author: Liam Gammalliere

The fundraising journey – shorter than you might think…

Fundraising can seem daunting to anyone who hasn’t done it before. We can easily get bogged down in the details of reaching the end goal; the goal we toiled over, constantly asking ourselves whether it’s so high that it’s unachievable or so low that it’s not enough. Before long, we can lose sight of what really matters – the fundraising journey.  

You might’ve considered fundraising, but don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’ve always thought of it as something out of reach that only other people do. Let’s see what it actually looks like…

Why fundraise?

Fundraising is one of the best ways for supporters of a charity to raise awareness and much needed funds. Think of times you’ve seen someone you know start a fundraising campaign. You might not have even heard of the charity. Well, now you have – and you know a bit more about their work. Maybe the charity they chose was a well known, national organisation. Now, you’re reminded of what they do and why – and you might find that their cause is more important now than it’s ever been. In fact, your fundraising journey takes others on a journey, too.

Fundraising is invaluable to charities. The exposure to new and even existing audiences is something that can’t be measured with money. The tireless work of fundraisers create ripples that continue for miles, far beyond the horizon of what any of us can see.

What do I need?

In a world that can sometimes feel increasingly more detached, fundraising is a great way to connect with those around you. Whether that’s in person (in your local community or work) or virtually (with a shareable social media campaign). It really is for anyone, no matter how shy or outgoing you might be. You don’t have to know a hundred people or have a thousand friends on social media to fundraise – after all, who does? All you need is that reason, that spark that gives you purpose and drives you to make a positive difference.

Introducing Aldo

For Aldo, that was the first COVID-19 lockdown back in 2020. He’d always enjoyed running, but started taking it more seriously as the world around him began to shut its doors and mandatory closures swept across the UK. It gave him time to reflect on the lives and circumstances of others. ‘I got to thinking about how difficult the pandemic was making the lives of so many, and how many people would be losing income or jobs as a result of it,’ he told us. This one thought, this one urge to act, was all that was needed. Inspired by the work and mission of the organisation, he decided to fundraise for CAP. And so, his fundraising journey began…

Where do I start?

Aldo was spurred on by the thought of people being thrown into debt through circumstances beyond their control. Overnight, many would find themselves furloughed or even made redundant. Those who were already struggling could so easily be tipped into financial and emotional oblivion. With some certainty, we can be sure that we all know someone who found the financial burden or the mental strain of lockdowns too much to cope with.

This was Aldo’s first fundraising journey. He started with nothing more than passion and a pair of running shoes. He added his usual running routes together and came to the immense figure of 21 miles, aligning nicely with the year he started fundraising: 2021. We can all agree, 2,021 miles is too far to run…

Aldo started a JustGiving page which he shared on his social media, making it easy for others to see what he was doing and why. It gave him a place to point people towards who would potentially support him throughout his fundraising journey, from training to the final run. Here, people supporting him could easily donate and he could get a clear look at how much he was raising.

Then, one morning at 4:20am, he began. Well before the sun had risen, Aldo had set out on his journey to change the lives of millions living in debt and poverty by doing what he loved: running. 3 hours and 18 minutes later, he had completed his 21 miles – raising a massive £2,150. 

Here are some photos from his fundraising challenge:

Setting off in the dark

A selfie of CAP Supporter Aldo as he begins his run in the dark at 4am. 

Some scenic photos from the journey

A quiet, semi-rural street at sunrise. A canal with canal boats on the left, taken from the dusty footpath to the right. Up ahead is a big, industrial-looking bridge. A beautiful pink, purple and blue sunset. In the middle of a field, with a river to the right, and a stony footbridge can be seen in the distance. 

A tired, but happy, Aldo

A beautiful pink, purple and blue sunset. In the middle of a field, with a river to the right, and a stony footbridge can be seen in the distance.

What can I do?

To many of us, waking up at 4am is unthinkable, let alone running almost the distance of a full marathon at that hour! But therein lies the beauty of fundraising. You can fundraise in whatever way you want. If running isn’t for you, something else is. You can raise money in any way that your imagination desires. Anything can be turned into a fundraising activity, whether it’s playing video games or baking. It’s your fundraising journey, and you have full creative control over how you’d like to use your skills/hobbies to make a difference.

Capturing people’s imagination is a really good way of getting them behind you in whatever pursuit you’ve chosen. Aldo’s goal of running 21 miles to reflect the year is a great example of this – and his similar goal of £2,100 gave his supporters something to really get behind.

What if I don’t raise enough money?

There really is no such thing as not raising enough money. Some people find that setting a fundraising goal helps them. This was the case for Aldo. He told us, ‘​​I found having the goal helpful, and could act as a motivator for people to donate as they could see the impact their donation had in getting towards it.’ 

Knowing there’s a target to achieve helps some people with something to aim for along their fundraising journey. But no matter how ambitious or humble it is, it’s never anything to be sniggered at. At a time when so many people are feeling their finances are stretched, there’s no donation too small to contribute towards helping those suffering the difficulty of debt and poverty.

Simply making others aware of the issue of debt and poverty in the UK is an invaluable feat, and doesn’t always translate into donations. Someone might see your campaign and not have the funds to donate. While you might be disheartened by this, maybe that person really needed to hear about the free services CAP offers to everyone. Maybe seeing your fundraising activity encouraged them to finally reach out to get help and transform their life. You really can’t be sure how far the ripples of your actions go.  

Where do I sign up?

There’s no official process to fundraise for CAP. You have full flexibility on how and when you want to start your fundraising journey. You can find different websites to manage your donations and progress. If you’re taking to social media to extend your reach, many platforms have templates and links that give you sharable content to get the message out of the amazing thing you’ve decided to do. If you want some inspiration, check out some of the links below.

Spread the joy on your birthday

Take on a challenge for CAP

Join an event near you

 

We at CAP would like to offer huge thanks and congratulations to Aldo for his accomplishment and fundraising. Our fundraisers are so important to us, and we can’t wait to hear about your journey. It’s a journey that we’re certain you’ll find as fulfilling to you as it is transformative to those most in need.

Be sure to tag us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with your fundraising campaigns so we can cheer you on and equip you on your fundraising journey, and so you can inspire others that they too can make a difference.

What does biblical generosity look like?

calendar04 March 2022

Author: hayleytearall

What does biblical generosity look like?

Biblical generosity according to Jesus

In Luke 14, Jesus is invited to an important Pharisee’s house for dinner. Jesus watches on as the Pharisee’s friends all jostle for the best seats at the table, which would typically signify their importance. The culture during this time was to invite important people, with high social ranking, wealth or influence, to dine. By being generous to these people, you stood a chance of climbing the social ladder.

Jesus challenges the Pharisee and his guests on this (Luke 14:12-14). He says:

‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’

Jesus’ challenge is this: instead of picking those with high wealth and social status to have the best seats at the table so they’ll return the favour, true biblical generosity means inviting those from whom you have nothing to gain. It is recognising people’s value in God’s sight and giving them the best seat at the table.

Real biblical generosity means pouring out God’s love — that he freely extended to us — on those around us, without condition.

 

Simon’s story: biblical generosity in action

Simon’s story is one example of how the love of God, poured out generously by his Church, transforms lives. Simon embodies biblical generosity in his life, as he pours out his own kindness and joy to others.

 

‘My (now deceased) wife used to look after the finances. She was the one that was good with the money, where I wasn’t, and I built up quite a lot of debt. I was living in fear of eviction – I’d been served with an eviction notice from my landlords. I didn’t see a way out of it, so I decided I’d try to end it all.

It was actually my landlords who mentioned Christians Against Poverty. When my Debt Coach, Jim, arrived at my doorstep, nobody had crossed the threshold in the two years I’d been living there. This was the biggest difference that Christians Against Poverty’s process made for me – the house visits.

In July 2016 I got that wonderful telephone call from headquarters at CAP where they said ‘Simon, you are now debt free’ and played the harmonicas, and it’s one of the greatest sounds I’ve ever heard.

I then went to a CAP event where I came to faith. This lady put her hands on my shoulder and prayed for me, and I felt an overwhelming sense of calm and peace and love and warmth that I’ve never experienced before. I just knew what it was, and committed my life to Jesus there and then.

Now, on a Sunday I can’t wait to get up for the service. I just love the church family that I’ve got. We’re brothers and sisters in Christ but we’re closer than blood, and we support each other, we live our lives for each other, we’re there for each other. I praise God and thank God that I now know that he watched over me when I tried to end it all, and he said, ‘No mate, you’re not going yet, you’ve got lots to do’.

It’s turned my life around 180 degrees from completely structureless to having a real purpose in life now. I’ve become a CAP Befriender, a CAP Money Coach, I volunteer at the church food bank and I even set up a choir at my church. I just felt such an overwhelming sense of wanting to give something back.

Both my sons also saw the difference that coming to faith had made to me. My son, Darren, came along to a service, listening intently. That evening, we happened to be having some baptisms, and he chose to come along and be baptised. I’ve never felt so proud in all my life. Five days after his baptism, my son unexpectedly passed away.

Obviously it was a tragic situation for us, but I know he’s found Jesus and he’s been taken to glory with his maker, and he’s sat up there looking down on us. I’m sure he’s proud of what his dad is doing.

Life can still be tough but I’ve always got my church family around me to support me, and I know that I’ve always got Jesus who is my best friend.

 

Biblical generosity in practice

Simon’s story beautifully demonstrates the relentless generosity of God’s love. This is a love that is not measured by what he gets in return, but flows boundlessly and endlessly because it is the essence of who God is.

Simon’s story also shows how we can respond. Jesus urges us to love others in the same way he loves us, without condition. That is true biblical generosity. Biblical generosity involves both our compassion and practical actions, just as he showed his love to us. He invites us to join him in a life of generosity, especially to those who find themselves struggling, isolated and overlooked. This is the heart of the gospel.

 

Will you book a CAP Speaker in 2022 and share this message of practical hope with your church? Your Speaker will inspire and challenge your church with an engaging, Bible-based message and a practical call to action. Join churches across the UK in finding out how you can bring hope to those in debt and poverty by booking a CAP Speaker today.

Can we stamp out poverty in the UK? Here’s what Anthony’s doing about it

calendar18 February 2022

Author: Claire Wong

Can we stamp out poverty in the UK? Here’s what Anthony’s doing about it

You might have seen Anthony on TV, speaking out about poverty, or you might recognise him from other CAP campaigns. We first met Anthony when he was a client with our Debt Help service. Now he’s debt free and campaigning on behalf of others experiencing poverty in the UK. We caught up with him to talk about his work.

How did you get involved in CAP’s work?

I didn’t know about CAP until I became a client with them. From a client perspective what I valued most was the fact that you’re not speaking to a machine, and are not treated like a statistic. You have a personal touch from your Debt Centre Manager and their team. What I like about CAP as a whole is their passion to make things equal for those in society, such as stamping out poverty in the UK. That’s what drew me towards following up CAP and committing my time to be able to give a bit more work towards CAP.

The message that CAP has is very dear to my heart. I also witnessed it physically. I saw the love and ambition to help. I saw the non-discrimination. That to me, meant the absolute world to me so I wanted to give a bit back. The message of eradicating poverty is very close to me as I’ve had to go through bankruptcy.

Tell us about some of the work you’ve been involved with 

These opportunities started popping up to be able to work with the media. It was very scary at first as it was something that I’d never done. It took me out of my comfort zone. But it gave me a challenge as well, to apply the time I had available to something that is so important. I’ve been a part of forums such as BBC Radio 4 and a local authority forum.

What’s it like, speaking in front of everyone?

Terrifying at first, going to London in front of MPs, but we got there and the support given by the team along the way was most important for people like me. I’m sharing my story so I’m putting myself in a vulnerable situation and bearing all before strangers, so the support and the prayer and the guidance in understanding CAP’s approach to the subject was so helpful for me as a person to feel armed and ready.

The whole experience has been an amazing journey for me which has ignited something deep in my heart and made me want to continue making a difference the best I can.

How optimistic are you that we really can change things and stamp out poverty in the UK?

Change is always possible. It’s just how many people are willing to step out and make that change as to how quickly that change will happen. We see a lot of things, where if people come together, throw away their differences and work towards a common goal, we can make that change and that impact.

Through being involved in the outreach side of CAP, it opens your eyes to all the people working the background who are fantastic! It also opens your eyes to how many people want to see this change. We’ve seen by the recent work, the impact of that, where CAP has grown in such a way, beyond us. We can only put that down to the fact that God has instilled that passion and faith in us. Our message is a message of love to tell people they’re not alone. God has said that all the way through, you’re not alone. There are constant reminders in the Bible. It all starts with that small stone being thrown in the pond and the ripples that have been created. I’m excited to see what the future holds.

What are some ways we can get involved in the fight against poverty in the UK?

The smallest thing can create the biggest reaction. It’s important that people come together to address poverty. If you’re not a talker there are other ways to support through giving time or prayer, or making a financial contribution.  It doesn’t matter what your talent is, your talent is needed. If your talent is knitting a couple of hats, that’s great – you could use that as a fundraiser. Or if your talent is standing up and shouting with a megaphone, get up and do that. All of these things are the small stones that create the big ripples. We’re in it together. The more people we can get to come together, the louder the voice will be, and that will have the biggest effect.
 

We'd like to say a huge thank you to Anthony, for all his work speaking up against injustice, and also for encouraging the rest of us that we can each contribute something to the fight to eradicate UK poverty.

If you’d like to find out more about the message and mission Anthony discusses here, check out our vision here.

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