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Hand in hand with the local Church

calendar24 August 2018

Hayley Tearall's avatar Hayley Tearall

Hand in hand with the local Church

From the beginning, the Church has been God’s great idea. Humans are created for community and by working in partnership with local churches, this's what both Tearfund and CAP are building. Through churches, we reach into local communities across the world to show the love of Jesus and to rescue people from the darkness of their circumstances.

Tearfund’s primary focus is helping people who are worst affected by poverty around the world. CAP concentrates on those affected by poverty on our doorstep in the UK. However, our mission is the same. We’re both committed to releasing people from the grip of poverty because God has told us to reach out to those in desperate need. He says that ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Matt 25:40).

Because of our shared mission to ‘speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy’ (Prov 31:9), we equip local churches to be beacons of hope within their communities. When we work through the local Church, we see the body of Christ truly shine. Lives are impacted by the gospel and people are set free, all the while showing poverty who’s boss.

Globally, as we stand with the Church, we have the incredible opportunity to raise up those struggling in the pit of poverty through the resources we have. If it weren’t for the local Church, many people wouldn’t be able to access our help. The material things are so important as our mission is to see people rescued from the physical grips of poverty - and that’s why we’ve developed our specialist services.

But we don’t stop there, because we’ve got good news to share. We're passionate about releasing people from material and spiritual poverty and empowering them to step into the fullness of joy God has for them. With churches committed to journeying with those in their local area, the impact we have is massive – we create authentic, long-lasting change that creates a ripple effect and transforms whole communities.

As a movement of passionate Christians, we are unstoppable. We are devoted to praying for, encouraging and supporting our neighbours way beyond their journey to financial stability. Through the Church, we're equipping people with the tools they need to turn their situation around. Psalm 68:6 says, ‘God sets the lonely in families’ and we find that by introducing people to the love of Jesus, the Church is a family, ready and waiting. Millions across the globe are finding healing from the fear, loneliness and isolation that come from poverty.

Giving the gift of time

calendar15 August 2018

Ellie Gage's avatar Ellie Gage

Giving the gift of time

It’s coming up to the time of year when I go and serve on a Discovery Break, where CAP takes clients on a short break to spend quality time with their family and be blessed. My family and I have served on these breaks for several years and they’ve always been special. I say ‘special’ because we’ve experienced the joy of seeing people unwind in front of our eyes.

We see some clients arriving with anxiety, stress and fear. They might have had a stressful journey, or found it difficult to pack for a family break (I know I can find that stressful!) After all, most of our clients haven’t had a family holiday in years while they’ve been facing poverty and debt. 

Over the course of the few days, we run fun sessions for children so their parents can have some breathing time, and organise activities for the whole family too - from treasure hunts to karaoke, and even a barn dance! The break isn’t just a family holiday, it’s a break away from the challenges of everyday life.

But as well as the fun moments, there are those other times where it may not seem obvious that I’m serving others. I call it God in action. The gifts of time I give to people seem to make the biggest impact. 

On one Discovery Break, I had a late night chat over hot chocolate with an older couple who’d lost their sense of hope. We laughed and talked about the good things we remembered from the past, but we also thought about the good things that were happening in their lives at that very moment.

I also had a conversation with a lady in the ‘pamper zone’ as I gave her a facial. She said she was failing as a mum, and didn’t know how to connect with her teenage daughter. I encouraged her that she was doing just fine, and that other mums go through the same situation too.

I experience the power of giving the gift of time to clients - listening, encouraging and speaking God’s love to people. There’s a great exchange because we receive fulfilment that we’ve helped someone who may be struggling and might need a listening ear. I think it’s something we lack in our society, giving up our time for each other. This is why I want to serve others all year round, especially with the gift of time.

Join our latest crowdfunding campaign to help 183 CAP clients get the break they desperately need this summer.

Ellie Gage is CAP's Director of People and Culture. Her passion for CAP is that it takes people from a point of desperation and transforms them into people with hope for the future. Ellie leads the people and culture strategy for CAP ensuring that we are able to really make an impact and help others because we have an excellent workforce that are themselves well equipped and cared for.

‘If you’d asked me where a hug came on my list of priorities, I’d have said bottom. Turned out, it was top.’

calendar13 August 2018

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

‘If you’d asked me where a hug came on my list of priorities, I’d have said bottom. Turned out, it was top.’

Imagine somebody has been involved in an accident and is taken to hospital. A broken leg will be put in a cast to give it time to heal, medication administered, wounds stitched up. But is that it? Usually the patient won’t simply be sent on their way. There may be mental health check-ups on account of the trauma experienced, physiotherapy to help them get back to normal, lots of people around to support them in their recovery. The healing process is about much more than the broken bones and the stitched up wounds. And they almost certainly wouldn’t be expected to do it alone.

It’s the same with CAP’s service. One key characteristic is the holistic approach to debt counselling. As well as having expert caseworkers working to find an appropriate, practical solution to the client’s debt, create a manageable budget for them and negotiate with creditors, we offer emotional support that goes deeper than the maths equation.

Every client is visited at home by a local debt coach and befriender. They help them to understand any paperwork and the process of becoming debt free. Wherever possible, they help with immediate needs, such as a food shop or topping up the electricity meter.

Beyond these home visits, our volunteer befrienders continue to keep in touch with the client. This may come in the form of inviting them out for a coffee or simply being on the end of the phone when times get tough.

For the kinds of people that come to CAP for help, many of whom are vulnerable and have multiple complex needs, this approach is vital. Debt can be stressful, frightening and isolating, and that’s before you factor in the other issues they’re facing at the same time – mental and physical ill-health, bereavement, relationship breakdown to name a few.

Another advantage is that it allows us the opportunity to share our faith with clients, offering prayer or extending an invitation to church (where appropriate). A local church offers a ready-made community and a support network that lasts long after the journey with CAP has concluded, and it’s here that lots of clients report finding family and a sense of belonging. When it comes to a holistic approach, we look not only at the person’s present situation, but their future too.

CAP client Leigh Walton recently shared her story with the Sussex Express, recalling that she had always suffered from depression but found it increasingly hard to cope when her mother sadly passed away. This quickly led to her falling into debt.

‘I developed a worsening spending habit, even though I was on a very low income,’ says Leigh. ‘I was filling an emotional hole. I was defensive, bitter and angry.’

‘I was becoming agoraphobic and spent hours sitting on the stairs, pretending I wasn’t in, with people shouting through the letterbox and banging on the windows.’

It wasn’t until Michelle from CAP arrived on her doorstep that Leigh realised the extent of her isolation. ‘If you’d asked me where a hug came on my list of priorities, I’d have said bottom. Turned out, it was top. I needed to feel like I was talking to a real person about me, not automated advice or advice online or over the phone.’

Stories like Leigh’s, who is now debt free and visiting other CAP clients as a befriender herself, are a testament to the importance of a face-to-face service that looks at the whole person and their wider circumstances.

What’s more, CAP is committed to tackling the underlying issues that lead to debt and poverty: unemployment, addiction, a lack of life skills and poor money management. Through Job Clubs, Fresh Start, Life Skills and the CAP Money Course, we’re delving deeper into the person’s circumstances in the hope of offering an all-round brighter future.

This is why we work through local churches. Without them, we wouldn’t have the teams to carry out the home visits and run group services or befrienders to provide ongoing support. We wouldn’t be able to look people like Leigh in the eye and say, ‘It’s going to get better’.

Sadly, there are still lots of people in the UK that we can’t reach because we don’t have a CAP centre in their area. We vitally need more churches to partner with us and bring hope to their communities. Click below to find out more or pass on the message to your church leader.

Find out more about partnering with CAP.

Support the work of CAP with a one-off or regular donation.

Ten totally free ways to entertain the kids this summer

calendar24 July 2018

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Ten totally free ways to entertain the kids this summer

Go football mad

If the World Cup has your kids craving a kick-about, get them to a football coaching session hosted by FA Lidl Skills during the summer holidays. Depending on the group, sessions are either free or come with a very small fee. Visit faskills.thefa.com to find out more and search for sessions near you.

Make a racket

For those that are more Rafael Nadal than Raheem Sterling, there’s free access to tennis courts in various places around the UK through Tennis For Free. Working with local councils, the initiative aims to improve mental and physical health while encouraging people to make use of public facilities. Visit tennisforfree.com to see what’s available in your area.

Get in to festivals for free

If you want to go to a festival or exhibition this summer but are put off by the price, volunteering will often get you free entry. Provided you can delegate childcare during shifts, this is a frugal way to take the family away for a few days of fun.

Smashing geocaching

Take the kids out for a spot of geocache hunting. A favourite with kids (and big kids), simply download the free Geocaching app, create an account and you’re good to go.

Check out your church

What events are going on at your local church over the summer? Check their website or noticeboard for kids’ groups, family days out, barbeques and summer fairs.

Adventure in a book (or six)

Local libraries are an ideal place to find free events going on. Find out if a library near you is involved in the Summer Reading Challenge. This year’s theme is Mischief Makers – perfect for your little rascals! Visit readingagency.org.uk/children to find out more.

Play all day

This year, Wednesday 1 August is the national day of play. All over the UK, events will be hosted to encourage and celebrate children’s right to play – how great is that? Visit playday.org.uk to find events near you.

Find crafts in the countryside

The Woodland Trust offers a bunch of great downloadable craft resources online at woodlandtrust.org.uk/naturedetectives. Get out in the garden or go for a walk to collect some bits to use, such as acorns, petals and leaves.

Build a hedgehog house

This is a fun and creative activity for kids, as well as helping to prevent the decline of the UK’s hedgehog population. Take an old cardboard box and cut two thin air vents in the sides and a small doorway in the front. Place in a quiet, sheltered spot, such as under a bush. Cover with plastic to keep it dry and fill with shredded newspaper and dry grass or straw. Cover and surround the box with dry leaves, twigs and other bits of shrubs you can find in your garden. According to the RSPB, you should avoid disturbing the house between May and September – see rspb.org.uk for more tips on building a safe and comfortable house for your hedgehogs.

Perk up a rainy day

Of course, even the best laid plans can be rained off. Should you find yourselves stuck indoors, why not challenge the kids to put on a variety show (they could act, dance, play an instrument, read a story, perform some comedy or magic)? Paint plant pots, ready for when the weather perks up. Or build a den using chairs, sheets and cushions, and set up a laptop inside for a cosy makeshift cinema.

Because we know family life can be challenging when you’re on a tight budget, Christians Against Poverty runs life skills courses through local churches across the UK to help you discover new ways to live for a brighter future. Head to caplifeskills.org to get signed up.

An ordinary and extraordinary job

calendar12 July 2018

Jon Day's avatar Jon Day

An ordinary and extraordinary job

My name’s Jon and my role here at CAP is the Director of Technology and Transformation. I love working at CAP – fact. But that doesn’t mean that every day of my working life is pure joy! I’ve concluded that as part of the CAP team I have both an ordinary and an extraordinary job.

It’s ordinary because if you came and visited us in Bradford (please do!) you’d see me and my team doing normal office stuff: meeting to discuss a key technology project, looking at the latest research from our Fresh Start service, recruiting and building teams, training, setting budgets, making tea rounds. And, yes, sometimes that can be fairly ordinary, and busy, even stressful.

But (and it’s a really big one) you’d also notice the extraordinary. We pray for all sorts of things here (trust me, praying for a phone system was something I found quite bizarre in my first week at CAP!) We celebrated the lives being changed through our Fresh Start work. We decided when we recruited a member of staff that they needed to have a passion for CAP’s work. Even though this meant that the job might’ve been unfilled for a while, we knew that God had a plan and would lead the right person to our team. We made you an extraordinary cup of tea… no, just kidding.

I’m so proud that, as I lead our Technology, Research and Development teams, I know that we’re part of something incredible. Celebrating families going debt free, celebrating generational changes to people’s stories, celebrating people finding faith and a community in their local church. When things are busy or we face a challenging situation, I know that we can stop, look up, look around and be instantly encouraged by all that God is doing through Christians Against Poverty.

I’m always on the lookout for people who’d like to work with us – especially in our Technology and Transformation team. You can see our current vacancies below. If there’s nothing that suits you right now, please get in touch at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and ask to be added to our regular recruitment emails. If you’ve got skills in tech, send in some info on your skills and experience and why you’d like a role at CAP. Our recruitment team will pass that on to me. I look forward to hearing from you!

Interested in joining the team here at CAP? See all the roles we currently have on offer.

Jon Day started his career in technology at a US investment bank before leaving after a few years to join the charity sector. He has managed IT projects and programmes at Christian Aid and the British Red Cross. Jon is passionate about using technology to enable CAP to bring hope, life and freedom to those who are desperately in need of it.

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