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The impact of writing a letter: update from our Simplify the Solution campaign

calendar09 June 2021

Author: Claire Wong

The impact of writing a letter: update from our Simplify the Solution campaign

You might remember that earlier this year, we were asking people to write to their MPs. We were campaigning to improve the Debt Relief Order (DRO) so that more people on low incomes have a realistic way to become debt free. Today we’re back to update you on the impact you had by joining that campaign.

But first, a quick reminder in case you’re not sure what a DRO is

We understand that not everyone gets as excited about routes out of debt as we do, so here's a recap! If someone’s in so much debt that they have no realistic hope of repaying it, there are options to have those debts written off, sometimes using your assets (like a car or property) towards the costs. The best-known option is bankruptcy. But bankruptcy costs £680 in England and Wales. What do you do if you just can’t afford to save up that much money?

Well, there’s another option called the Debt Relief Order. It was intended to help people on low incomes, who couldn’t possibly save up that fee, let alone pay back their debts (like so many of the clients we work with at Christians Against Poverty), to have a chance at becoming debt free.

So that’s the background, now on to the impact you’ve had.

Firstly, we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who wrote to their MP. Your voice has made a difference to the lives of many of our clients.

We’d noticed that many of the very people for whom DROs were meant to be a lifeline, weren’t able to meet the criteria for them. Some owed too much money to qualify. There were even instances where someone needed a DRO but would have had to give up their mobility scooter as part of the process, which we’re sure you’ll agree isn’t fair at all. That's why we knew it was important to improve the Debt Relief Order.

The great news is that after our campaign and a consultation, the Insolvency Service has announced some changes. They are increasing the amount of debt that can be written off through a DRO. The person accessing the DRO will also be able to keep a (reasonably-priced) car so that they don’t lose transport for work and other essential journeys. Crucially, they’ve clarified the guidance to make sure no one loses their mobility scooter as part of a DRO, if it’s deemed to be an essential vehicle.

The impact of our Simplify the Solution campaign can be seen in the Government’s response. Because of how they've made changes to improve the Debt Relief Order criteria, the Insolvency Service estimates over 13,000 more people will access the process each year. That’s 13,000 more people with a suitable route for getting out of debt, who now have a chance at a financial new start, without the stress of debt weighing down on them and their families.

So next time you wonder whether it’s worth the effort to sign that petition or write that letter of support, know that your voice can make a difference! Together, we can speak up and bring about meaningful change.

 

If you love campaigning for social justice and want to keep in the loop with all our Policy and Influence work at CAP, you can get specific updates on this straight to your inbox. Sign up here!

Step outside and boost your wellbeing this Mental Health Awareness Week

calendar10 May 2021

Author: Claire Wong

Step outside and boost your wellbeing this Mental Health Awareness Week

Have you ever seen a sunset so fiery and colourful that you had to stop what you were doing to watch it? Or gone for a walk in the park to clear your head after a stressful day? How did you feel after doing those things?

There’s an increasing amount of scientific evidence that getting outside, especially to green spaces with fresh air, is good for you both physically and mentally. Did you know that simply seeing the colour green has a calming effect on the human brain? And in recognition of the way the outdoors can boost your wellbeing, this Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is focussing on nature.

For Christians, the Bible points to this same truth

Jesus encouraged his followers to look at the natural world when they felt worried, in Matthew 6:25-27.

‘Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’

Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find it hard to be told ‘don’t worry’. But here, there’s something really comforting in the fact that Jesus knows I worry about really practical things like household chores, and checking in on friends, and whether that cough is the sign of something serious, or just that I’ve forgotten to drink any water today! He knows what we’re like, as humans, and that we are going to be faced with uncertainty and anxiety around really mundane stuff. And then he points to the natural world — to the birds you see flying past the window. The birds tell us something about God, he says. He offers us a way to be mindful of God’s presence in the midst of our worries.

It was true 2,000 years ago, and it’s still true this Mental Health Awareness Week

So if you found your daily walk in lockdown helped you feel better, there’s a good reason for that. Whether it’s listening to birdsong, heading to the woods in search of bluebells or looking out across the sea — these things affect us. They calm us, remind us of beauty and of God’s creative genius. Psalm 91 tells us ‘the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands’. We can learn so much about God by simply paying attention to what he has created.

person walking in forest

And what’s great is that there’s room for us to engage with this in different ways. You might not be an intrepid, mountain-scaling adventurer, but you don’t need to be. The question is, what helps you?

It could be:

  1. Opening the window to tune in to the birdsong 
  2. Going for a lunchtime walk somewhere green each day and noticing how the scenery changes with the seasons
  3. Taking a day out to go a bit further afield and turn off your phone so you can refocus your mind on what’s important to you
  4. Growing some plants on your windowsill and letting that new life speak to you of hope
  5. Staying up late enough to stargaze and think about how unfathomably vast our universe is

So why not take some time to boost your wellbeing this Mental Health Awareness Week, and ask God to show you something new and inspiring through the world he’s created? Put on a pair of comfy shoes and soak up some mood-improving, stress-reducing green spaces!

For more inspiration from the natural world, check out this post from our Brand Communications Manager, Claire Cowles, on what gardening can teach us in times of upheaval.

Captain Tom 100 challenge: 26 easy fundraising ideas

calendar20 April 2021

Author: Hayley Tearall

Captain Tom 100 challenge: 26 easy fundraising ideas

The Captain Tom 100 challenge is on everyone’s lips right now. Back in 2020, 99-year-old veteran Captain Tom Moore took on 100 lengths of his garden to raise money for the NHS in the middle of a global pandemic. Not only did he raise a mind-blowing £32.8million*, he became the nation’s favourite hero.

Now it’s your turn! Will you take on the Captain Tom 100 challenge and raise money for CAP in honour of Captain Tom’s legacy?

 

Take on the Captain Tom 100 Challenge for CAP

Whether you want to do something as a family or individually, here are some ideas to get you thinking about what Captain Tom 100 Challenge might work for you.

 

Do something physical

Taking part in a physical challenge is one of the most common and easy ways to raise money for charity. Why not follow in the footsteps of Captain Tom himself, who did 100 lengths of his garden, for your own Captain Tom 100 challenge? Whether it’s running, skipping or cycling that takes your fancy, by getting moving you can make a difference.

1. Do 100 star jumps

2. Do 100 skips with a rope

3. Climb 100 stairs (or 100 flights of stairs if you’re feeling brave)

4. Run 100m (why not challenge your friends/family to see who can do it the quickest?)

5. Do 100 cartwheels

6. Do 100 press ups

7. Attempt 100 keepy-uppies

8. Score 100 football or basketball goals

9. Walk or cycle 100 laps around the block or your local park

10. Google ‘group yoga poses’ and try recreating them as a family (upload your photos to social media to inspire your friends – and don’t forget to tag us!)

11. Climb 100 flights of stairs

12. Have a 100-minute dance party. Stream it on your social media and encourage people who tune in to donate!

13. 100 minutes of skipping

14. Walk 100km

15. Juggle for 100 seconds (or 100 minutes!)

 

Creative activities

If you love to get creative, why not put your skills to good use and come up with your own creative Captain Tom 100 challenge? You don’t have to be an artist, either – just have some fun! If you need some inspiration, give one of these a go.

16. Do 100 rows of knitting

17. Decorate 100 cupcakes or biscuits (and drop them round to your loved ones)

18. Paint or draw 100 postcard-sized pictures (why not post them to your friends?)

19. Tie dye 100 t-shirts and sell them

20. Text 100 friends to let them know what you love about them (or pick 10 friends and write 10 things you like about them – that definitely makes 100, right?)

21. Write and post 100 cards or letters for a more old-fashioned way to let people know you’re thinking of them

 

Quiet activities

Maybe you like your own company or are in need of some down-time. Perhaps you find being quiet difficult, and one of these ideas could be a good Captain Tom 100 challenge for you. Slowing down is important for our mental wellbeing, so you’re doing yourself a favour as well as raising money for a good cause!

22. Do a sponsored silence for 100 minutes (get the kids involved too!)

23. Write 100 short poems

24. Plant 100 seeds or bulbs (really take your time and focus on the present moment)

25. Read 100 pages of a favourite book, or a book that’s completely different to your usual genre

26. Go for a walk in the countryside and take photos of, or write down, 100 beautiful things you find. (You could use this as a chance to practise thankfulness, which is proven to improve mood and wellbeing!)

 

We hope these ideas have inspired you to get involved and raise money for CAP through your very own Captain Tom 100 Challenge. So, what will your Captain Tom 100 Challenge be?

Take on the Captain Tom 100 Challenge for CAP

Don’t forget to share what you get up to on social media with the hashtag #CaptainTom100 – and tag us so we can cheer you on!

Happy fundraising!

 

 

 

*£39.3million including Gift Aid

Making that first call for debt help

calendar16 April 2021

Author: Kate Dykes

Making that first call for debt help

This post is about CAP’s Debt Help service. For free, professional debt help, give us a call today on 0800 328 0006.

We want your first phone call for debt help to CAP to be as easy as possible. To help you put a face to a name, we'd like to introduce you to Bev, one of our New Enquiries team members. We asked Bev what it’s like taking those first calls from people, and what you can expect to hear on the other end of the line.

Hi Bev! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m 62 and married with three daughters (my husband Simon and daughter Helen work at CAP too). I love family time, reading, pilates, good meals, films (especially Lord of the Rings), music, dancing (only at weddings these days), sunsets and nature.

How did you hear about CAP?

I heard through church back in 2007. We were fundraising for CAP and I was immediately drawn to the charity. We were in debt ourselves and had some help from CAP. I experienced in person what a hope-giving service they provide, and I desperately wanted to do the same for others. I’ve been here 12 years now and I still love it.

What's it like answering the phone to people who call for debt help?

A lot of people are very nervous when they call. Some have even waited years to pluck up the courage to call, so I know that being their first point of contact at CAP is a big deal.

It's great when you can tell that they feel there is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel.

Some people seem very downtrodden, so empathy and a bit of kindness goes a long way. We let them know we genuinely care about them. You can often feel the relief in their voice as the call goes on and they often say they feel a lot better just for calling in.

It’s a real privilege and I thank God everyday for my job. I love taking calls and having the chance to welcome people into CAP and to show them God's love. It’s humbling to know that God trusts NET to do this!

How many calls have you taken during your time working here?

I’ve taken approximately 65,000 calls.

What happens on the call? How do you find out if CAP can help?

The main thing that we check is whether we have a centre that covers your area. If we do, we book in your first appointment with their local Debt Centre.

If we are unable to help, we will always signpost you to other reputable organisations such as StepChange, PayPlan or Citizens Advice. If you are feeling unsure about whether we can help, give us a call anyway and we can always help point you in the right direction to get help elsewhere.

What questions do you ask people?

We ask some basic questions about you and your current situation, such as your name, contact details, whether you rent or pay a mortgage, your source of income and a bit about what kind of debts you have. We’ll also ask if you have a partner, as we always work with couples together.

Do you only help Christians?

No! We help everyone regardless of religion, gender, sex, age, ethnicity etc. We offer the same caring and professional service to everyone. We give people a non-judgemental, friendly warm welcome, hopefully make them feel at ease and let them know that there is a way forward!

I do explain that we are a Christian charity, and that we are happy to pray for you if this something you’d like us to do, but there’s never any pressure and I’ll never push prayer on anyone who doesn’t want it!

Does it matter how much debt people have, whether too much or too little?

Not at all. I have people call for debt help with only a few hundred pounds of debt who were really stressed and physically or mentally struggling, with no support network, so CAP was able to come alongside them and really give them a hand to reduce their stress. 

Sometimes having a small amount of debt would lead to us suggesting one of our other CAP services, which are the CAP Money Course,, Life Skills, Job Clubs or Fresh Start.

Many of our clients go through a repayment plan, or those with larger amounts of debt may go through DRO or bankruptcy.

How do you make sure someone's information stays secure and confidential?

All the information you give us is securely stored on our systems. We have extensive security measures in place in order to keep your information confidential. To read more about our privacy policy please take a look at our privacy notice.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about making that first call for debt help to CAP?

Don’t be afraid! We are a really approachable and friendly team. The booking process is short and uncomplicated, and hopefully there will be a local CAP centre to provide you with face-to-face, ongoing support (depending on Covid rules). I know it’s worth that call because I was once making the same call!

 

Hopefully hearing from Bev has given you some insight into what to expect when you call for debt help and put your mind at ease.

Please don’t hesitate to give us a ring on 0800 328 0006 and ask for debt help if you are feeling overwhelmed by debt.

We look forward to chatting to you!

What lockdown taught us about Easter

calendar29 March 2021

Author: Claire Wong

What lockdown taught us about Easter

A year ago, we faced the prospect of Easter in lockdown. It was the start of the pandemic and no one knew what to expect. Now we’re approaching that same milestone in the calendar a year on, and in the UK we're still under restrictions. But this year looks different. Is it possible that lockdown could teach us an important lesson about how to find hope this Easter?

Since the beginning of Covid’s spread, I’ve found myself drawn to Easter Saturday. This might sound like an odd day to get excited about: in the modern Christian calendar it can feel uneventful. Good Friday is all about the cross, Easter Sunday is the joy of new life, but in between there’s a day where nothing much happens. We wait for it to be over, because we know something better’s coming tomorrow.

When you don’t know how the story ends

But for the early disciples, that first Easter Saturday was very different. It didn’t come with any reassurances of a victorious ending to the story (Jesus did foretell his death and resurrection, but his followers didn’t grasp his meaning until after it had all happened). For them, it felt like they’d lost everything. They were defeated. They went home in despair.

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)

cross on a hill with light behind

What does Easter Saturday mean for us?

In many ways, we’ve been living in Easter Saturday ever since last year. We haven’t known how this pandemic is going to end, and we’ve been aware of how much we’ve lost. As we approach Easter, I find myself very sympathetic towards those disciples huddled together in dejection.

And yet, the story of Easter is all about hope and new life. Let’s not forget that for Jesus’ followers, it was the biggest surprise plot twist of all time! The man they saw killed actually came back to life. The switch from despair to amazement must have been a rollercoaster of emotions!

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!'  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. (John 20:19-20)

Spoiler alert: you can find hope this Easter too!

We, of course, have the benefit of knowing the end of that story. We know that God’s unfailing love and light win out over darkness. We know that God’s heart is to rescue and redeem the people he loves so much. And therefore we have a reason to hold on to hope: hope for change, hope for joy, hope for new life and possibilities. It’s why at CAP we use the words ‘always hope’ so much. Because we’ve seen, in the bleakest of situations, that change is possible.

Over the last year, we’ve all perhaps had to work much harder to hold on to that hope. But as all nations of the UK start to move out of lockdown, and vaccinations continue to rollout, we can begin to hope that change is on the way.

After a year of Easter Saturday uncertainty, be encouraged that we can all find hope this Easter in the knowledge that the whole resurrection story is one of God’s deep love for us and the surprising turnarounds made possible when he gets involved in our lives. Whatever happens, we always hope.

What are you looking forward to this Easter? Tell us in the comments about your hopes for this year.

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