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Keep an eye out for vulnerable neighbours during the snowy weather

calendar01 March 2018

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Keep an eye out for vulnerable neighbours during the snowy weather

So it's snowing. A lot. For most people, it's an inconvenience, but for some - especially the elderly and vulnerable - it can be isolating and often dangerous. It's times like these that well known quote from Mark 12:31 is especially pertinent: 'Love your neighbour as yourself'. Let's get into the community spirit and help those in need on our doorsteps during these extreme weather conditions.

  • Maybe there's a family living nearby that relies on their kids getting a hot meal from school. Could you cook something up and take it round to them?
  • Could you get your wellies on and make it to the corner shop to pick up some supplies for that elderly neighbour who can't get out? Home help and 'meals on wheels' services may be affected by the weather. 
  • Pick up the phone and call someone who lives alone. They may have been stuck inside for days with no company and a chat could be a real blessing!
  • Keep a family warm in the cold weather: offer to top up their gas/electricity meter.
  • If you can, get out there and grit the street outside your house or grab a shovel and help to clear the road.
  • If you see someone sleeping rough, help them to get the support they need by alerting local services to their whereabouts using StreetLink.

Share your own tips for looking out for vulnerable neighbours during extreme weather below.

Make coffee, make conversation, make a difference

calendar27 February 2018

Maisie Pollard's avatar Maisie Pollard

Make coffee, make conversation, make a difference

With CAP on a mission to relieve as many people from debt (and expand our debt centre coverage across the UK), this year we’re heading out to various exhibitions and events to spread the word and drum up vital support. But to do this, we need amazing people like YOU reading this to help.

This year we're bringing CAP cafés to Big Church Day Out and New Wine's United 18. We really need volunteers to serve drinks and snacks, keep the café running smoothly, chat with members of the public about what we do here at CAP and help promote our life changing services. There are plenty of tasks that need covering, so whatever your skills your help will be invaluable.

Volunteering is a great opportunity to connect with other people and make friends for life, all while giving your time for a worthwhile cause. We’d love to have you on board and, as a thank you, you’ll be guaranteed free camping, free food AND free entry into the festival.

Big Church Day Out is a Christian worship festival rocking up to both West Sussex and Cheshire in the summer. We need 40 volunteers at both events:

  • 25 to 28 May 2018 - Wiston House, West Sussex
  • 31 May to 3 June 2018 - Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire

You can also get involved in the marketplace café at United 18, taking place at Royal Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet. We need 28 volunteers at both weeks:

  • 28 July to 4 August (week one)
  • 5 to 12 August (week two)

Interested? It's really easy to apply - just fill out this form and you’ll be on your way to helping change lives this summer.

We'll be at lots of other events throughout the year. We're not currently looking for volunteers at these but we'd love to see you. We’ve some special giveaways planned this year so be sure to come and say hi!

  • 8 to 10 March – Jesus Culture, Manchester
  • 12 to 13 April – RCCG Ordained Ministers’ Conference, Bournemouth
  • 8 to 10 May – Assemblies of God Stronger Together, Bradford
  • 15 to 17 May – Elim Leaders’ Summit, Harrogate
  • 26 to 27 May – Big Church Day Out South, West Sussex
  • 1 to 2 June – Big Church Day Out North, Cheshire
  • 25 to 27 July – Hillsong Europe, London
  • 28 July to 3 August – New Wine (week one), Somerset
  • 5 to 11 August – New Wine (week two), Somerset
  • 24 to 28 August – ONE event, Lincoln

I want to join in! Click here to apply.

‘The phone must have rung well over 200 times.’

calendar19 February 2018

Alex Aris's avatar Alex Aris

‘The phone must have rung well over 200 times.’

Apart from food and a roof over our heads, money is an important factor in everyday life. Sometimes we don't realise this, as it is programmed automatically within us through a process. At the end of each week or month from a paid job or benefits, we pay our way, as we eat, breath and sleep. It isn't until the movement of the financial pendulum, suddenly turning into a chaotic motion, that brings us to understand that there is a problem.

The glamour and enticement of obtaining credit through finance or retail outlets are all too easy and straightforward. Only the creditor can see the potential with ample amounts of an annual percentage rate, which can vary so much between banks and lenders. If we can't afford to pay off the full amount each month, we pay the minimum and get charged interest as a result. It's always been this way.

And through desperation, we turn to credit when everyday bills rise, when the rent or mortgage is due. Some say the saddest thing is when credit is used to buy food or a food bank is relied upon just to fill an empty stomach. We do what we need to do in order to simply survive.

And so, for me, I fell into secondary debt through a loan and credit cards. They had built up over many years. It bit me like a rabid dog or a frenzied shark swimming the perilous seas, as I drowned with no sign of surviving. But there is always hope - and it starts with asking for help from one of the many debt advice charities and organisations. I took my first brave step and contacted CAP in April 2017.

While I was in debt, creditors wrote letters and phoned pretty much constantly. The phone must have rung well over 200 times across several months, which seemed a real waste of energy and my circumstances hadn't changed at all. From day one, I suffered from crying, sleepless nights, stress, depression, lack of appetite and experienced scary types of anxiety attacks, which involved dizziness and vomiting. I felt so tired and exhausted. It really does hit you hard and to think there are people out there in the big wide world who commit suicide as a last resort because they can see no way out - it is so sad and frightening. It's very important to ask for help the moment things become difficult financially.

During my amazing debt support with CAP, I attended a CAP Money Course where I learned lots of new and useful ideas on how to budget and save. You then begin to realise that one of the bases of credit, in some ways, is to get what you want more quickly, rather than taking the more sensible route of saving and waiting. We tend to live in a utopian world of credit, which is sadly classed as the norm nowadays.

My end to debt has closed with going insolvent, after kind charities and donations known through CAP helped me to raise the fee. It now means that I have a fresh start and even though my credit score will be affected for six years, I will no longer have to carry the weight of financial pressure and can live a normal life again.

Alex went debt free in January 2018 after working through his debt with CAP. He lives and works in Oxford and says he has a passion for 'Lego, retro-themed gadgets and gizmos, computers and video game design'. He also enjoys classical and 1980s music, as well as sightseeing in the countryside. This blog was originally published on Alex's blog page and he has kindly given us permission to publish it here, in the hope that it will bring reassurance to anyone in a similar situation.

My life changing year as a Lead intern

calendar15 February 2018

Sarah Elson's avatar Sarah Elson

My life changing year as a Lead intern

It’s always been a lifelong aspiration of mine to work in the charity sector, to get up in the morning knowing what I’m about to do that day is going to make a difference to someone’s life.

After coming across CAP by accident (I saw a sticker on someone’s car and Googled what it was!) I visited the website and ordered a free copy of Nevertheless, CAP founder John Kirkby’s story of how it all started. I was totally blown away by what it meant to step out and trust God and knew that if I was going to start out in the charity sector anywhere, CAP had to be my first port of call! 

Last January I visited CAP HQ for the first time for my Lead interview. From the moment I walked through the door, I knew CAP was something I wholeheartedly wanted to be a part of. As you pass through the various departments, there is such a tangible sense of energy, passion and faith that is infectious. I drove home hoping and praying that this was going to be the next chapter of my life!

There is such a great family feel at CAP, which made it really easy to settle in when I first started in September of last year, despite being in a new job in a new city. The managers really care about you as a person, mentors help sharpen your focus and coaching is available if you want to tackle a specific area of development.

A place of opportunity

If you’re driven and tenacious, there are so many opportunities for the taking, ranging from leading sessions for your fellow interns, volunteering at events like Big Church Day Out and New Wine, promoting CAP in the community through being part of the Speaker team and many more!

So many opportunities: Volunteering at the Bradford Light Church CAP Job Club

A place to be challenged

As part of Lead you get to become a valued member of a department within the charity. It’s fantastic getting to specialise in one area and there really are opportunities to learn something new every day. We have Lead sessions every Wednesday afternoon, where the interns spend time exploring a spiritual development topic. After this we receive professional development training, covering aspects of leadership such as project management, emotional intelligence and communication skills.

We also have a fundraising target to hit by the end of our Lead year. We receive lots of input and encouragement on this during our Lead sessions; a personal favourite of mine was taking part in an idea-generating session and then presenting a pitch to a panel of judges, Dragon’s Den style!

A place to grow

CAP is a great place to grow professionally and spiritually. In addition to learning your role and the training you get on Lead sessions, there are so many other opportunities to develop, ranging from lunchtime seminars, a well-stocked learning and development library and special events with external speakers. Whatever you go on to do after your Lead year, you’ll be well equipped and full of fantastic experiences that are guaranteed to take you far.

A place of fun

Not many workplaces value fun as highly as CAP. We get to work hard and play hard! So far this year I’ve taken part in Nerf wars, lots of serious table tennis, an indoor sports day, Mexican meals (and piñatas), walks in the Yorkshire Dales and absolute Christmas fever! Sunday evening blues aren’t a thing when you work for CAP – we start the week with worship on a Monday morning, which is so energising and a great reminder of the heart behind what we do.

Christmas fever: Building hampers for clients in need at Christmas

The Lead programme is about investing in you, getting to know what really makes you tick and where you want to go. Whether you’re looking for your first career step, a new challenge, or you just want to try something new, Lead provides a great platform to experience an award-winning charity that’s working alongside the Church to change thousands upon thousands of lives. Could it change yours too?

Fancy joining us for a new adventure in September? Click here to find out more about Lead and come along to one of our assessment days.

40 ways to pay it forward this Lent

calendar13 February 2018

Maisie Pollard's avatar Maisie Pollard

40 ways to pay it forward this Lent

This year, Lent begins on 14 February and lasts until 29 March and, as ever, people everywhere will view this as a time to give something up. It’s great, of course, to stretch yourself to go without a luxury for 40 days – chocolate, unhealthy snacks or alcohol for example – but has the season become too much about this and less about its Christian roots? This Lent, let’s give ourselves a different kind of challenge: to give back. By paying it forward to the community and people around us rather than focusing inwardly, Lent has the power to make a huge difference. We’ve compiled 40 ways to do just that – one for each day.

  1. Start by reading an extract from the Bible daily to help focus your mind on others. 'Love your neighbour as yourself', says Mark 12:31. Christian Aid offers free daily Bible readings online.
  2. Sacrifice some time out of your day to call someone who you know you should talk to more often, ask how they are and offer a listening ear.
  3. Make a pledge to help the homeless. If you see someone sleeping rough, you could offer to buy them their lunch. Just giving them the time of day can be so valuable.
  4. Make the choice to pray for someone. You don’t necessarily have to pray for them in person or over the phone, you could just take five minutes to pray for them while you’re on your own or even on the go!
  5. Write to someone to say why you appreciate him or her and what you find great about them too. You could even include a Bible quote to give them encouragement and set them up for their day. This is a really simple act of kindness that could make a whole lot of difference!
  6. Contribute to charity. You could give financially through monthly donations or give a one-off donation if you’d prefer. Or why not go all out and start planning a sponsored event in aid of your favourite charity?
  7. Apply to volunteer within a charity shop or, if this isn’t feasible, gather some unused clothes and items and take them down to your local charity shop. They always need new stock and it’s a simple way to help out and get rid of some clutter too.
  8. Additionally, clothes banks and homeless shelters always need donations. Find out what’s in your area and donate any clothes you no longer need – warm items like coats, gloves and scarves are especially useful.
  9. Help to clean the community. If there are no local litter clean-ups in your area, you could offer a helping hand to someone in need with their cleaning. This might be an elderly relative or a friend who’s rushed off their feet.
  10. Give compliments! Make a conscious effort to say something nice to someone (or multiple people) throughout your day. This doesn’t cost you a penny and can make a difference to their mood and yours.
  11. Offer to help out in your local church. You could offer to join the welcome or worship team or to make tea and coffee after church services.
  12. Make a stranger’s day. Ask that cashier who always serves you in the supermarket how their day is going. Thank them and show them they’re valued. They might not hear it very often. When you receive good customer service, make sure you let the employee’s manager know so that their hard work is recognised.
  13. Give an anonymous donation to someone’s JustGiving sponsorship page. Support a good cause, help out a friend, and do it selflessly.
  14. Alternatively, set up your own fundraising page for that sponsored event you started planning. Share it on social media and drum up support.
  15. Talk to someone you haven’t heard from in a while. Ask how they are and what they’ve been doing since you last spoke with them. You could make a commitment to yourself to take more time to check in with them from now on.
  16. Ask to join your church’s prayer chain to ensure that those in need in your community get the support they need. If your church doesn’t have one, why not speak to the leader about setting one up?
  17. A creative idea is to put together a care hamper for someone in need or in hospital. It could be for someone you know or even for a stranger. You could include things like candles, magazines or toys. Why not pop in a ‘thinking of you’ card containing your favourite Bible quote to help lift up someone during a difficult time? Then you just need to drop by the hospital and speak to someone on reception about dropping off your gift.
  18. If you see that there is a particular need in your local community, write to your local MP and pray that the issue will be resolved.
  19. Calling all animal lovers! Take time out of your day to donate pet food or bedding to your local animal shelter or rescue. Generosity isn’t just exclusive for humans!
  20. Plan to cut down on your waste to help the environment. Get savvy on recycling by checking you local council’s webpage to see what can and can’t be recycled in your area. Be conscious of the waste you’re producing and start making some simple swaps. You’ll be contributing to preserving the planet one small step at a time.
  21. If you go to the supermarket and get a BOGOF deal, give away the free one! This is a simple but generous act of kindness. Find your local food bank and donate it there.
  22. Offer to take someone who lives alone for a coffee or for lunch. For a cheaper option, get the kettle on and invite them to your house instead.
  23. When you go out for a meal, leave a tip if you wouldn’t normally. It doesn’t have to be big, but it’s an easy way to say thank you when you receive great service.
  24. Another food-related act of generosity is to cook a meal for some friends or loved ones. This is a simple idea but a great act of giving (and gives you an excuse to eat your favourite foods!)
  25. Communication is key! Try something new and learn a few phrases in sign language or another language to reach people who you wouldn’t usually be able to fully communicate with. It’s a valuable skill and even learning simple phrases like ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ can make people in your community feel included.
  26. Take ten minutes out of your day to pray for issues that may not be as close to home – current issues like migration, climate change and endangered animals all need the power of prayer.
  27. Offer to pray for someone one on one. Ask them if they feel comfortable to share what’s going on in their life, and give it all to God.
  28. Offer to wash something for a family member. Whether it’s the laundry or the car, it’s an act of service that won’t go unnoticed.
  29. Leave an anonymous note or gift for someone to show how much they are appreciated.
  30. If you go to a coffee shop or takeaway, you could leave money behind the till and pay for the next person’s order.
  31. Share your favourite Bible quote with your friends. Be courageous and post it on social media, explaining why it has an impact on you. You never know, it just might impact upon someone else too!
  32. Get some sticky notes, write messages of truth or Bible quotes on them, and stick them where someone will see them. It could be around the house or on a colleague’s desk. This will remind them how much they mean to not only you, but to God as well.
  33. One very simple task – smile! Smile as much as you can. It releases endorphins in your brain and will improve your day and the day of those around you.
  34. Get a trolley from a supermarket and, once you put it back, leave the pound in it. This is such a simple way to give a small act of kindness.
  35. Make something that you could share with your friends – baking a cake to take into work is a way to show you care that few people are likely to not enjoy.
  36. Invest in Fairtrade products during your weekly shop.
  37. Support smaller, local shops rather than bigger supermarkets.
  38. Make a list of people and situations that need prayer and make sure you pray for them!
  39. Buy a copy of the Bible and give it to somebody you know or leave it for a stranger to find (pray that God puts it in the hands of someone who really needs it).
  40. Reflect on all the amazing, selfless things you’ve done over the last few weeks. Choose a few that made a real difference or that you particularly enjoyed, then resolve to continue doing them into the future.
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