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Martin Lewis visits CAP

calendar10 May 2018

Marianne Clough's avatar Marianne Clough

Martin Lewis visits CAP

Huge cheers greeted Martin Lewis as he visited CAP HQ for the first time this week.

As one of the charity’s most outspoken and supportive advocates, for many years, it was a real treat for everyone working here to say thank you and hear from him in person.

Martin addressed staff saying: ‘I’m delighted to be among true life savers. People think when you talk about saving lives and money they think it’s hyperbole, it’s exaggeration but finance is not some arcane bit of the accounts. It affects the roof over your head, it affects your relationships and whether you can talk and look after your children. It’s one of the biggest causes of suicide and divorce in this country.’


‘Christians Against Poverty isn’t about helping Christians, it’s about helping people. The drive, the reason you do it, is your Christianity and your faith and I will never knock that. I think that’s right. The most important thing is the enormous number of results, and every time I mention Christians Against Poverty, I get people who tell me how it’s changed their lives.

‘I, not as a member of your faith, will continue to support you with every ounce of being that I have because you are doing good. I don’t care whether you wear a Christian hat, a Jewish hat, a agnostic hat or a secular hat. If you are doing good, you should be lauded and supported, acclaimed and applaused and I will do all of those things.’

CAP Founder John Kirkby presented him with an engraved harmonica so he could join in the next debt free celebration, which came during the tour of the offices and he recorded a message of encouragement to the clients in question who had paid off their debts over several years of hard work and determination.

Touring the offices, Martin was able to meet Catherine, someone who had been living in real adversity for years when she saw his recommendation of CAP on TV.

Catherine’s life has now changed completely and, while she works to pay off what she owes, she has herself begun working at our head offices in Bradford answering calls from new clients ringing for help.

She said: ‘It was amazing to just be able to say thank you to him. That’s all I wanted to do and to show him what a difference he makes to people who are living like I was. He is a great friend to CAP and I can honestly say he saved my life.’

Chief Executive Matt Barlow said: ‘It was fantastic to hear from Martin about the policy-changing work he is doing especially in the areas of debt and mental health and it meant a lot to all of the staff here to hear his encouragement to us.’

Five ways to be a community builder

calendar04 May 2018

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Five ways to be a community builder

Right now, there are people living just a stone’s throw from you for whom poverty has trapped them in a prison of isolation and loneliness. At CAP, we’re working hard to break this isolation and show people that they’re not alone, no matter how desperate their situation may feel.

You can play your part too. Whether you’ve got ten hours or ten minutes, you can be a community builder and help break the grip of poverty and isolation in your area.

I have half an hour or less per week
Check in with someone you haven’t heard from in a while
Even if you’re really busy and don’t have much time to spare, you can do your bit to beat isolation by ringing or messaging a friend or relative that you’ve lost touch with and listening to what’s going on in their life. Never underestimate the power of a text message asking, ‘How’s it going?’ – it shows you’re thinking about them and that you care. Offer to pray for them and let them know that they’re loved, valued and not alone. It might be helpful to set a reminder on your phone to check in now and again if you’ve got lots going on!

I have an hour per week
Set up a prayer group or chain
Get a group of people together from your church to commit to praying for the isolated and lonely in your community. You could meet regularly every week, after your Sunday service or one evening. If you’re strapped for time, perhaps set up a text message chain or Whatsapp group to remind people to pray and communicate any specific prayer requests.

If you have a CAP service set up in your church, be sure to pray for the frontline workers. Whether it’s a Debt Help team visiting a client’s house, or a Job Club, Fresh Start or Like Skills team meeting with group members, they have a unique and powerful opportunity to smash down the walls of isolation in these people’s lives and even invite them to join your church community.

I have three hours or more per week
Volunteer for your local CAP service
If your church has a CAP Debt Centre, you could become a befriender (accompanying the Debt Coach on client home visits). Not only will you be a massive help to the Debt Centre team, but you’ll be in a position to offer the client invaluable support and friendship. Take them out for a coffee, invite them to church events, or just be ready on the end of the phone when they call – it’s that simple!

If your church runs a Job Club, Life Skills or Fresh Start, more volunteers means more time for the group manager and coach to spend one-on-one with group members, supporting and coaching them. Again, this is a really easy way to help break isolation and build community in your area – all you need to do is show up!

Type your postcode into the search bar at the top of this page to find your local centre and details for getting in touch.

I have one evening per week
Bless your neighbours
How well do you know the people that live next door to you? As Brits, we’re used to keeping ourselves to ourselves and may never really get to know our neighbours. Stepping out of your comfort zone to break the ice is a great way to build community. Pop round with some baked goods or a hot meal and get chatting. You never know, they could be a single parent family, battling an illness or going through any number of struggles, and your small gift could be the most relieving end to a hectic, stressful day for them.

Once you feel you know them well enough, you could even invite them to church and introduce them to a new community there too.

I have one afternoon per week
Remember the elderly
According to Age UK, 3.6 million older people live alone in the UK, and 1.9 million feel invisible or ignored. Could you pay a visit to an elderly neighbour or relative? A cuppa and a chat could be enough to brighten their whole week. If they struggle to get out and about, could you help them with a food shop? You could make this a weekly commitment and really change their life.

CAP is drawing thousands into the restoring community of the local church. All of our poverty relief services are delivered face-to-face, ensuring that vital community link is forged and isolation is wiped out. Your financial support will allow us to answer more cries for help and show poverty that it has no right to lock anyone up alone. Click here to donate.

Got another community building idea to share? Leave us a comment below - we'd love to hear it.

Opt in to make change happen

calendar23 March 2018

Alex Jones's avatar Alex Jones

Opt in to make change happen

We can’t do this without you.

Change doesn’t happen without people opting to work together, standing up and saying, ‘Yes, I’m in, let’s do this!’ We’re building a movement of people like you, passionate about speaking up for those who have no voice. Your support means that someone becomes debt free through CAP every 45 minutes, every working week!

I take inspiration from incredible people who have done incredible things. At CAP HQ we’ve named many of our meeting rooms after some of them. I regularly have meetings in Wesley, Parks, Pullinger, and Tyndale. As I sit in the Wilberforce room during a difficult meeting, my eyes catch his words written on the wall and I remember what this is all about and the part we all have to play in transforming our world, ‘You may choose to look away but you may never again say you did not know.’

It’s tempting to look at these great figures, to see the change they achieved and feel insignificant in the face of the overwhelming challenge we face. But it’s another hero that offers us a warning about putting incredible women and men on a pedestal and playing down our own agency and ability to make change happen. Nelson Mandela’s personal struggle against apartheid is inspirational. It’s Mandela that reminds us, ‘It is not the kings and generals that make history but the masses of the people.’

The end of apartheid was not achieved by one man. It was the thousands of ordinary South Africans with the support of thousands more around the world that changed history. At CAP we’re only freeing tens of thousands from debt and poverty every year because we have a movement of incredible supporters by our side; supporters who’ve chosen to speak up for the poor and give their time, money and energy to see change happen.

This May, the law is changing so that people have more control over what they receive from organisations, charities included. Although we think it’s great to be given the choice, this new law puts many charities – including CAP – in a very uncertain place. When the law changes, we won’t be able to communicate with our supporters – our invaluable CAP family – in the same way. 32,000 supporters have already chosen to remain connected to everything CAP is doing, and we’re asking you to take ten seconds to do the same.

Your passion is what changes lives. We can only give a voice to the voiceless, bring hope to the hopeless, and do it all through the Church, with you by our side. Ten seconds and four ticks is all it takes to join the thousands of others who’ve already said ‘yes!’ to speaking up for the poor.

Already receiving our updates? Click here to stay connected Not yet on our mailing list? Join the movement today

A house of prayer for everyone

calendar22 March 2018

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

A house of prayer for everyone

At church it’s not uncommon to focus on certain parts of the Easter story more than others. We tend to centre on Palm Sunday, the last supper and the Easter garden, skipping over the bits in between. Indeed, if you only go to church on Sundays, you can go from turning up on Palm Sunday with Jesus coming into Jerusalem, and then jump to Easter Sunday to hear that Jesus has risen from the dead.

A whole lot happens in those days in between, and there’s a lot we can learn from it too.

There’s one part at the beginning of the week where Jesus gets properly mad. Coming into the temple in Jerusalem, he sees the moneylenders selling sacrificial doves and drives them out. When we hear this story, we often leave with the moral that we should keep money and prayer separate. But Jesus came from the Jewish tradition in which sacred and secular were not separated (what was most important was that both areas were done right) so why else might Jesus be mad?

Well, if you look into it, there’s an interesting reason the people were selling doves. If you were rich and wanted to be spiritually clean, you sacrificed a lamb to God, but if you were poor you sacrificed a dove. If you couldn’t afford one, then you couldn’t come into the temple. This was a huge barrier for the poor people who needed God’s help and a community of support the most.

Not only were the people in charge implicit in keeping people out, they were also profiting off people who were struggling financially. You can see then why Jesus would be mad and why the people in charge would be annoyed when he tipped over the tables.

A little later in the week, Jesus sees a widowed woman who gives away her last two coins. He says, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.’ (Mark 12:43-44)

We admire the woman for her faith, but couldn’t we equally read what Jesus said with a sense of outrage in his voice? Wouldn’t you be upset to hear that a poor widow had nothing and was expected to give everything, and the more privileged gave so much less and didn’t do anything to change things?

Jesus didn’t get on well with the people in charge because he was presenting a whole new way to live. It was one of the reasons he was crucified. What’s important about these moments in the Easter story is that there’s so much we can learn about the way we treat one another, individually, as churches and as a society. For Jesus, it was essential that the poor, the sick and the marginalised were welcomed and helped above all else.

At CAP, we’re all about giving the very best to those with the very least. Our heart is to put those who are often left at the ‘bottom’ of society at the very top of our priority list. We work in and through the Church in order to create safe spaces where the poor can come to be welcomed and loved.

This Easter time, we can all be challenged by what Jesus did in the temple that crucial week: how do we make sure our churches (and we as individuals) model his bias towards the vulnerable and marginalised and avoid making the same mistakes as the temple authorities?

‘It’s been a fulfilling few weeks!’

calendar07 March 2018

Maisie Pollard's avatar Maisie Pollard

‘It’s been a fulfilling few weeks!’

When I chose to do a work placement, I thought, ‘Where would be a great place for me to gain experience in a friendly environment?’ I’ve always been interested in charity work so my first thought was Christians Against Poverty – and it’s been a fulfilling few weeks!

From the very start I learnt so much about what the charity does, which was so exciting. Over the next few weeks I heard about CAP’s vision to open up poverty-relieving centres all over the UK, in addition to amazing stories of clients whose lives have been turned around with CAP’s help. This inspired me so much that I decided to become a Life Changer, supporting the charity through a monthly financial gift.

Being surrounded by encouraging people who share the same faith as me has been something that I haven’t experienced before in a work environment. When I found out that all the staff at CAP HQ gather first thing on a Monday morning to worship God and praise him for everything he’s done for clients throughout the past week, I was so encouraged. It was amazing to celebrate together what God is doing through CAP week on week and to get a glimpse of what my Life Changer gift is helping to make possible.

My time at CAP has been invaluable in understanding how a national charity operates and I’ve been privileged to work in the Communications team, which links directly to my English Literature degree. I’ve been given hands-on work and written various blogs on student finance advice, budget gifts for Valentine’s Day and ways to pay it forward over Lent. This is something I’ve never had the chance to do prior to this experience and having my writing published on the blog has been a real achievement, especially for an English student like myself. I’m used to writing lots of essays, but my work placement gave me the opportunity to write in a different style for the blog. I can see this experience being really useful in my future career.

I would 100% recommend work experience in a charity setting to anyone, especially students! Giving doesn’t always have to be financial. Instead, giving up some of your time can be just as valued and beneficial. You can gain new skills for your own development while making a real difference to other people’s lives.

I’d like to give a big thank you to CAP for the opportunity you’ve given me and I’ll definitely be celebrating with you when the UK is completely covered in CAP centres!

Feeling inspired to follow in Maisie’s footsteps? Join us at CAP HQ for our summer placement programme, Engage, or why not apply for Lead, our one-year paid internship? We're also in need of volunteers to lend a hand in the CAP cafes at Big Church Day Out and New Wine's United 18 this summer. So whether you’ve got a few days, weeks or months to spare, there’s something for everyone! Click the links to find out more and grab yourself an application form.

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