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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 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.

Top tips for making your kids’ Easter fun more spiritual

calendar13 April 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Top tips for making your kids’ Easter fun more spiritual

Last weekend on Palm Sunday, Christians everywhere remembered when Jesus was applauded as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and now Easter weekend is on the way – the time we turn our minds to the story of Jesus’ betrayal, trial, death and resurrection.

It can be challenging for parents to teach their children about the Easter story because, as much as there’s the joy of Jesus’ resurrection, there’s inevitably the sadness and pain of his death. It can be tempting to focus on the resurrection and ‘new life’ side of Easter – the lambs, the chicks, the springtime flowers and, of course, the stacks and stacks of Easter eggs.

With the Easter holidays underway, there are lots of simple ways to add a little spiritual significance to your kids’ fun time.

  • Here’s one simple way to get your little ones thinking about the Easter story – incorporate it into their Easter egg hunts! My parents used to do this and I loved it. We’d use those plastic eggs that you can open and reuse, each containing little objects that told a different part of the story. For example, you could use a leaf to represent Palm Sunday, a chunk of bread for the last supper, coins for Judas’ betrayal, nails for the crucifixion, a stone and a piece of fabric for Jesus’ burial and a final empty egg for Jesus’ resurrection. Chat to them about each item as they find them, or they could try to put them in the right chronological order at the end.
  • If you have kids who are a little older or want to add an extra challenge, your Easter egg hunt could use clues leading to the hiding places, each referring in some way to the Easter story. For example, if you’ve got a thorny bush in your garden, you might say ‘I was made into a crown and placed on Jesus’ head before the crucifixion – what am I?’ Your clues don’t need to be anything elaborate – it’s just a case of getting them thinking about more than just the prizes!
  • Another activity involves creating your own miniature Easter garden. You could make flowers from tissue paper or fill a baking tray with sand, adding pebbles and small flowers. Have a look at these examples to give you an idea. Talk to the kids about the story as you build – they could even use little Lego people to act it out in the garden.
  • Your local church will probably be running tons of events over Easter for people of all ages. From workshops with lots of fun craft activities, to Agape meals, to a gentle Easter walk and teachings about the Stations of the Cross, there’s lots to do as a family while learning about Jesus. Whether you’re a regular member of the church or not, I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to welcome you and your family. Easter is an ideal time to give it a go and see what you think.
  • Finally, why not show your kids how to put the spiritual meaning back into Easter by doing something charitable for someone else? Head to the shops together, buy an extra Easter egg or two and donate them to people who might not have one otherwise. A quick search online should bring up plenty of charities looking for donations. After all, the main message of the Easter story is that Jesus gave his life for all of us – the most selfless act of all time!

From me and all of us at CAP, I pray you and your family have a really great Easter.

‘Cheep cheep’ ideas to try with the kids over the Easter holidays

calendar11 April 2017

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

‘Cheep cheep’ ideas to try with the kids over the Easter holidays

Every year around Easter time, parents’ minds inevitably turn to days full of restless, chocolate-fuelled children. For some, keeping the kids entertained over the break may come as a concern, especially if money is tight. Here are our suggestions for an Easter break that will keep the kids happy and the parents’ pockets happy too.

  1. Easter egg hunts - always a good way to get the kids out and about and kept entertained! See if there are any going on in your community. If so, what better way to get together with your neighbours, meet new people and explore your local area too?
  2. If you’re not able to make it to these events, why not set up your own hunt for the youngsters? Grab some small chocolate eggs (usually available in pound shops) and hide them around the house or garden. Simply set the kids off to search, sit down and put your feet up with a cuppa. Or, if you fancy making things a bit more challenging, create a ‘treasure map’ or a series of cryptic clues leading to the goodies – be creative! For tips on how to combine an Easter egg hunt with teaching the kids about Jesus, plus other ways to add more spiritual significance to their fun, see Joseph's blog here.
  3. If there’s a river or stream near your house, how about taking the kids down to play some games? Collect lots of twigs and leaves, build some boats and have a race down the water. Or go for a classic game of Pooh Sticks. Fun, free and outdoors – perfect! (Just be careful - obv!)
  4. Here’s an Easter classic: hard boil some eggs for the kids to paint as their favourite characters and celebrities. Grab some orange paint and you’ve got your very own Egg Sheeran! Why not stage the Oscars starring Eggs-Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom-lette Hiddleston? Or set the kids off on an adventure with Dora the Eggs-plorer? Okay, okay, enough of the puns, I'm just getting… eggs-cited… But this really is a cheap and cheerful way to keep the little ones occupied for an afternoon.
  5. What treasures does your hometown have to offer that you’ve never got round to visiting? Often you don’t need to travel for miles to find an interesting day out. Use Money Saving Expert's handy tool here to look up your region and see what free museums and exhibitions are on offer nearby.
  6. Get active, fill some time and support your local leisure centre. Cuts to council funding are sadly having an impact on leisure centres across the country, with many on the verge of closure. Why not make the most of the facilities on your doorstep this Easter? Go for a swim, play some badminton, or see what special events are on. This is stuff you can do alone, in a group or with the family, and it’s usually cheap as chips most importantly!

If low income is negatively impacting your life, sign up to your local CAP Life Skills: a friendly group where you’ll gain practical skills and discover new ways to live for a brighter future. Find out more at

Paul’s story

calendar06 April 2017

John Kirkby's avatar John Kirkby

Paul’s story

We were so touched last week when Paul, who won our 2016 Inspiration Award, decided to spend his prize of hotel vouchers coming to Bradford to say thank you!

Paul went debt free in March, so it was perfect timing for us to celebrate this and his changed life!

YOU are the reason Paul is now debt free, is beating his mental health struggles, and has a relationship with Christ. This is only possible because of your love and support.

Watch the video to see just how grateful he is for what you've done! This is just one of thousands of lives you'll change this year.

Thank you,


Change lives, be changed: one CAP intern’s story

calendar29 March 2017

Lydia Gray's avatar Lydia Gray

Change lives, be changed: one CAP intern’s story

This time last year I was in Australia, starting off on a trip where I’d be exploring the world and soaking up new cultures and experiences. I took a year after graduating from university to go home and save up some money so I could go travelling. It was something I’d wanted to do for so long, but I also needed time to figure out what I wanted to do afterwards – which career I wanted to pursue.

My history degree taught me to construct a rational argument, and a fair amount about 20th Century Eastern Europe, but didn’t particularly narrow down my career options. When I graduated, the only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to work towards something good. I’m passionate about social justice and have a great desire to uplift the underprivileged, so I prayed that God would lead me to something which would help me do that; something which I could get behind and channel my passion and energy into – which he did!

I was told about CAP’s paid internship programme, Lead, by a good friend of mine from my church in Leeds, Emma, who had done it while I was in my third year of study. She had loved it, and was convinced that I would too. Although my home church has been a CAP Debt Centre for twelve years, I hadn’t fully grasped the amazing impact that CAP was having, even in my own community. So, while at home, I investigated it a bit more and volunteered as a befriender for Jo-anne, our Centre Manager. I saw real, tangible change happening in the lives of local people – practical solutions to poverty and the things trapping people in it. This, and the passion and drive of both Emma and Jo-anne, convinced me to apply for Lead!

I won’t lie, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I applied! I wasn’t sure if CAP’s head office would be full of slightly ‘unreal’ Christians or if interning would be just constant tea rounds. But instead (although there is definitely a lot of tea!) I found:

A community, not only amongst my fellow Lead interns – an awesome bunch of people in exactly the same position as me, with the same nerves and concerns – but also throughout the staff at head office. At the beginning of the year we were integrated into head office teams based on our skill sets and preferences, and I found myself in the very lovely IT department. They welcomed me in and soon made me feel valued, as did people from other departments too. In particular, I’ve met some awesome women who have showered me in compliments, encouraging words and wisdom!

An opportunity to grow (even in areas I didn’t think I needed to grow). Every Wednesday we have a day away from our teams, focusing on personal development in seminar-style sessions. I thought these sessions would be my least favourite part, I didn’t think there’d be too much to learn about myself – but I was definitely wrong! For instance, I’ve learnt that I have terrible boundaries (I’m still figuring out how to say ‘no’ properly, a habit I caught from my mum) and that not everyone likes hugs as often as I do!

A chance to strengthen my relationship with God. There’s something really special about spending every day around Christians. Although it’s important not to get stuck in a Christian ‘bubble’, it’s also been such an awesome opportunity to let my guard down and explore my faith. CAP is not a church, but it has provided time to connect with God and some challenges to my view of him.

The opportunity to do incredible work. No matter which team you find yourself in, you’re contributing to the lifting of debt and poverty from thousands of people. This year has offered me chance to get valuable experience in the charity sector, and work on my professional development alongside experts in their fields. Lead is a great insight into the inner-workings of an award-winning, international charity, and what exactly keeps it all going.

As I write this, I’m halfway through my Lead adventure and I can safely say I have already learnt a lot. Not only about the charity sector, or about CAP, but about myself (as cringey as that may sound!) I’ve made some incredible friends who I won’t be letting escape anytime soon, and developed more confidence in myself and the plans that God has in place for me. I’ve gained experience and skills that I’ll be able to take with me into whatever lies ahead!

So, if you find yourself passionate, driven and wondering where to adventure next, take a look at Lead!

To find out more about CAP's year-long paid internship programme, Lead, and to apply, click here.

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