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Enduring hope: holding on to hope no matter what life throws at you

calendar02 September 2021

Author: Sarah Scarisbrick-Rowe

Enduring hope: holding on to hope no matter what life throws at you

I’ve always been passionate about hope. It’s what brought me to CAP in 2013 after hearing a client’s story, showing CAP bringing hope into the desperation and darkness of debt. Hope is what kept me going as a Debt Advisor for five years. It saw me through both the good days where you could send clients healthy budgets and keep their creditors at bay, and the bad days with finances that were impossibly tight meaning you could only offer clients difficult choices. Hope is what motivated me to go again and give my very best to the next client. 

Hope is also something that means a great deal to me as someone who has struggled with depression on and off for the last decade.

Holding on to hope

I am aware that might sound like a bit of a contradiction, to be passionate about hope and struggle with depression, an illness characterised by despair. I suppose it comes down to what we understand by hope. For me, hope is not a feeling. Yes, it can be a feeling and it’s a blessing when it is, when we feel good about the future and can look forward with optimism. But emotions are fickle and, whether or not you struggle with mental illness, there will be times when you don’t feel hopeful. Times where you don’t feel positive about the future, where it looks bleak, dark or disappointing. 

But if we lose that feeling, does that mean we’ve lost hope? No, I don’t think so. Because, to me, hope is a truth rather than a feeling.

It’s the truth that we’re forgiven and redeemed. That there’s nowhere we can go that’s beyond God’s grace. That we are loved unconditionally by our Heavenly Father. That no matter what we face or how we feel, we’re never alone or abandoned. That God can bring good through even our darkest nights. That he will use us for his glory even when we feel weak and unimportant.

The Bible is full of reminders of the hope that we have in the gospel and God’s promises to us. One of my favourites is 1 Peter 1:3-6: 

‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.’

Holding on to hope when you don’t feel hopeful

Depending on what situations or circumstances life throws your way, you may find that those truths and promises of God stop feeling true. It’s easy for our faith to be led by our emotions and when they don’t line up with our expectations we can doubt God and question his plans. But for our faith to weather life’s storms, it has to be built on more than our emotions. One thing mental health challenges teach you is that emotions are unreliable guides when it comes to truth. The things that are true in the light, when the sun’s shining down on us and our lives are as we want them to be, are still true in the dark, when we’re cradling shattered dreams and weighed down by pain. But we do have to fight harder to hold onto those truths when the lights go out. 

Hope isn’t pretending life is perfect. It’s acknowledging the pain and brokenness of this world, but choosing to view it through the lens of God’s redemption and grace. It’s choosing to trust in spite of our circumstances because God’s character hasn’t changed though our perspective has shifted. Hope is fixing our eyes on God’s kingdom coming whilst recognising it’s not here yet. 

Holding on to hope, in spite of the noise

And it isn’t always easy to hear hope speaking. Life comes with lots of voices clamouring for our attention. Maybe it’s ill health or the pressure of family life, financial challenges or relationship struggles. It could just be the daily grind of everyday trials and disappointments that can steal our energy and joy. Over the last year, we’ve all felt the anxiety, fear and isolation of the pandemic coming at us from every newspaper headline and conversation; exhausting and unrelenting. These situations and challenges can be loud and overwhelming. At times, hope can become a whisper that we have to listen for amidst all of life’s other noise.

At times, we can get knocked off course altogether and put our hope in other things. We trust in ourselves and our own effort and strength, thinking if we just worked harder then we’d be able to solve all our problems ourselves. We can put our hope in work or the other roles we play, finding our identity in what we can do and who we can be to other people. We can put our hope in things, in those material possessions or financial security that make life that bit easier. Or we can hope in another person, a leader we expect to save the day, or a relationship that we’ve centred our lives around. Sometimes we don’t notice our hope has gone astray until that thing is taken from us and we find our foundations have been shaken or fractured.

Holding on to hope in Jesus

Putting our hope in God is a daily choice we have to make. Choosing to centre ourselves around who he is and who we are within him. It’s especially important to do when storms are raging around us and that emotion of hope feels like a distant memory. God’s promises still stand and he is the only true source of hope.

Sarah Scarisbrick-Rowe has worked at CAP for eight years, and is now part of the Technology and Transformation team. When not working at CAP, she enjoys crafting, baking, writing or any activity that can be done with a cat asleep on her lap.

7 easy ways to make the summer last longer

calendar24 August 2021

Author: hayleytearall

7 easy ways to make the summer last longer

This time of year, as the weather begins to get colder and the evenings get darker, I always find myself wishing there was a way to make the summer last longer. With less sun to boost our vitamin D levels and the wetter, colder weather making it harder to plan family-friendly days out, the approach of autumn can be a total dampener on your mood - and pocket!

But with a bit of creativity, this year I’m determined to find some ways to bring the spirit of summer with me into the autumn months without it costing a fortune – and I hope some of these ideas inspire you and your family to do the same.

So, here are 7 easy ways you can make the summer last longer (that don’t cost the earth):

1. Pack a picnic

With the kids back to school and the forecast predicting rain followed by more rain, it probably isn’t the perfect time for a week away. Instead, why not make the summer last longer by turning that park trip into a picnic lunch, or packing some sandwiches and going for a drive to the countryside (there’s nothing like a car boot picnic with cosy blankets and hot chocolate)?

If you’re feeling super creative, you could even create a themed picnic lunch based on your kids’ favourite show, have a ‘mad hatter’s tea party’ with the craziest snacks you can find, or enjoy some ‘high tea’ with some scones and jam and finger sandwiches. By bringing some wellies and waterproofs, you might even be able to fit in a walk if you’re feeling adventurous.

2. Bring the BBQ indoors (not literally)

Nothing screams ‘summer’ quite like a barbecue, so why not have an ‘indoor barbecue’? Of course, you can’t bring the actual barbecue inside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cook all your family’s favourites in the oven then pick someone brave to finish them off for five minutes outside to give it that authentic smokey taste. In fact, why not put your big coats on and eat al fresco under a gazebo or umbrella? We’re all used to sitting outside nowadays anyway!

3. Toast marshmallows over a bonfire

For an evening activity to make the summer last longer that doesn’t require sunshine, it’s time for an autumn bonfire! Set up a fire pit or mini bonfire (safely) and stock up on marshmallows, biscuits and chocolate for smores. Sometimes the simple things are the most special, and marshmallows are somehow ten times more delicious and exciting when toasted over a fire!

4. Camp in the garden

Why not take your marshmallow toasting to the next level and enjoy a night of camping? I remember camping in my garden as a child with some friends from school, watching a DVD on a laptop with some sweets in a much-too-snug sleeping bag and slightly uncomfortable air mattress that always deflated overnight. Believe it or not, these are some of my best memories (because, let’s be honest, nobody likes camping for the convenience or comfort!). Why not make the summer last longer with an overnight camping trip…. in your back garden?

You could let the kids invite their friends to stay and bag yourself a quiet night in, or you could camp outside as a whole family. If you don’t fancy sleeping outdoors, why not set up camp in the living room with a blanket fort and some fairy lights?

5. Spa at home

Get those cucumbers ready, and have a laugh as you try out mummy’s face masks, take it in turns to do massages, paint each other’s nails or open a hair salon (get those haircuts in before the school photos!). Put some relaxing music on, get some spa-snacks for each ‘customer’ and even make your own mocktails with some fizzy pop and fruit juices.

6. Chase the sun

If your kids get up at the crack of dawn, or are total night owls, why not take them to see the sun rise or set? Make the summer last longer by mimicking that holiday excitement of getting up early, just hopping in the car and driving to your chosen viewpoint. Pack up the car with some camping chairs and blankets, and head to your local moor, park or hill before sunset or sunrise.

7. Take photos to capture the memories

Purchase a disposable camera for each child and task them with taking photos of the memories you make, either over a particular weekend or just whenever they like between now and Christmas. You can join in too! By doing things the old-fashioned way, getting the photos developed can be another activity and you can look through the memories you’ve made at the end. You could even collate them into a family scrapbook. One way to make the summer last longer is to see all the fun things you’ve been able to do in the autumn months that actually didn’t need summer at all.

I hope some of these ideas will help you embrace the coming autumn and winter months with a new sense of fun and creativity, even if we all wish we could actually make the summer last longer!

11 top tips for finding a new job

calendar04 August 2021

Author: hayleytearall

11 top tips for finding a new job

Losing your job in a global pandemic is a challenge that none of us could have prepared for. However, back in May 2020, around 7.6 million jobs were at risk as businesses were forced to close for several months. That’s almost one in four people in the UK workforce (24%).

The good news is that the number of job vacancies has been rising. Between April and June, there were an estimated 862,000 job vacancies, up 39% since Jan-March. So whether you lost your job during the pandemic, or you’ve been looking for work for a while now, we wanted to share some top tips for finding a new job with you. 

We spoke to some of our CAP Job Club Coaches and Managers, who are the job experts! They offer free practical support and advice to those looking for work, in a local community group setting.

Here are some of their top tips for finding a new job that’s right for you:

1. Make the most of social media

While you’re casually scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, you could also be on your way to finding a new job. The world is now more digital than ever, so why not make the most of it? By following some regional accounts like your local Jobcentre Plus or local businesses, you’ll be the first to see when new vacancies open up – and they’ll be right there in front of you so you won’t have to spend hours looking!

2. Sign up to email alerts (from a job-based website)

If finding a new job feels endless and overwhelming, why not sign up to get email alerts from a job-hunting site like Indeed or LinkedIn. Instead of having to trawl endlessly through jobs that really aren’t for you, you can choose to receive alerts about any specific roles you have experience or interest in, and you can upload your CV and qualifications directly so potential employers know who you are and why you’re a great candidate for the job.

3. Register your interest online

One of the best things to do when finding a new job is to put yourself out there and let people know you’re interested. An easy way to do this is to sign up to be told about any vacancies from any organisations (e.g. supermarkets) you’d like to work for. (You could even sign up to see if any jobs at CAP take your fancy!)

4. Go for a walk

If you’re in need of a screen break after being stuck at a computer applying for jobs, why not go for a walk? Not only could this be a welcome opportunity to de-stress in the fresh air, but you never know what you might find. Keep an eye out for any local jobs on offer in shop windows or community notice boards.

5. Get your friends and family involved

Let your friends and family know that you’re in the process of finding a new job and ask them to be on the lookout for anything that might be what you’re looking for. After all, many hands make light work.

6. Be proactive

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Finding a new job might involve looking in different places, so be brave and hand out your CV to places you’d like to work at. You never know, they might have a job opening coming up, and you might just be the person they’re looking for.

7. Identify your skills

Take some time to write down your top skills. If you’re not sure, talk to your friends and family. Do they think you’re particularly organised, creative or detail-oriented? Do you work best with a team, or are you really good at focusing for long periods of time alone? Think about the experience you already have and what skills you used in those jobs.

8. Make your personal statement personal

Once you’ve written down a few key skills, have a go at coming up with some specific times you’ve demonstrated these skills. Have you gone above and beyond in your old job, led a project, or overcome a particular challenge? Think of some examples that are as unique to you as possible, then build these into your personal statement (and CV).

9. Repeat yourself

When you’re finding a new job, you might feel like you’re repeating yourself on application after application. This isn’t a bad thing. Using the same personal statement for cover letters, application forms and even during interviews shows you’re able to give concise and specific examples of your skills and strengths – and it saves time too. If you’re applying for a range of jobs, select the skills relevant for each role and include these.

10. Say it out loud

Knowing – and being able to tell people – what you’re good at builds confidence. Don’t let the first time you say your strengths out loud be in an interview. If you need to, repeat your strengths out loud to yourself enough times that you begin to have confidence in what you’ve written.

11. Don't do it alone

We know that finding a new job can be extremely stressful and discouraging at times. But we believe that nobody should have to do it alone. That’s why churches around the UK run CAP Job Clubs. You can be part of a supportive community of like-minded people, receive 1:1 coaching, and gain the vital skills you need to get back into employment. If that sounds good, why not see if there’s a CAP Job Club near you?

We hope some of these top tips help you with finding a new job that you’ll love. A special thanks to Paul Jackson (North West Area Manager) and Steve Hudson (Job Club Manager, Skipton) for sharing all your top tips with us.

Find your local CAP Job Club

Seven tips for teaching kids about money

calendar11 July 2021

Author: Claire Wong

Seven tips for teaching kids about money

We all know how important it is to handle money well. It’s one of those essential life skills that we all need. But when it comes to teaching kids about money, where do you start? It can be daunting to decide what age to start your child’s financial education, let alone what you need to cover.

Well, we asked the parents at CAP’s head office to share their favourite strategies for teaching kids about money management. Here’s what they had to say about making sure their own children are prepared for the future.


1. Encourage a healthy attitude towards money

There are lots of practical lessons to learn about money, and we’ll cover those too, but a great place to start is to encourage children to have a healthy attitude towards money.

‘We've been teaching our four about money from their earliest days (our eldest is now seven). So far we've tried to show them what money is (i.e. a tool), what it's for (i.e. it serves a purpose, it's not something to acquire for its own sake) and that it's important to be in control of it - rather than be controlled by it.’ - James Ross, Specialist Debt Advisor


2. Let them see how you plan your finances

Kids learn by watching and copying their parents, so why not show them what you already do? If you have a budget written up somewhere, or use an app to keep track of your finances, let your children see that you’re putting time and effort into managing your money. They’re likely to remember that when making their own decisions in the future.

‘We showed our children (13 and 7) our budgeting spreadsheets to explain how we count up our income and work out things like regular spending and savings, using a bit of the CAP Money principles.’ - Paul Walmsley, Energy Relationship Manager

3. Talk to them about budgeting

Sometimes it’s important for us to be reminded that it’s OK not to be able to buy our kids everything they want. It can even be an important learning opportunity for them. So don’t be afraid to talk about budgets, and the fact that money is a finite resource to be used wisely.

‘I involved my daughters in talks about money from about 10/11. As a single parent, I needed them to understand that if I couldn't afford it, then throwing a strop wasn't going to change things! We talked budgets and savings, and they had pocket money to decide what to do with. They now both have mortgages, and my eldest now has a daughter of her own, so managing her budget to cover everything they need, including nursery fees, has been a bit easier as she's used to it.’ - Helen Ganney, Team Manager 


4. Let them practise handling their own money with an app

When we asked our staff what they did to give their kids some money skills, one thing that got mentioned a lot was the GoHenry app. Here’s what parents said about it:

‘We opened a Go Henry account initially for our daughter at 10/11. It’s a loaded up debit card which got her used to keeping an eye on her pocket money, deciding what to spend it on and also using pin numbers/bank machines etc. She's moved onto a junior bank account now that she’s nearly 15 but the transition was smooth because of the training period!’ - Alice Smith, Head of Mission

‘I also use GoHenry with my kids. I have it set up that they get a fixed amount each week. They can then give to charity and set up saving on there. It's a great way of teaching them to budget and manage their money well. My son is learning to check what money he has on the app before buying something with the bank card. He can also see quickly and easily how much he has saved up. As a parent you can set up spending limits on it and you get a notification every time they spend money which is really helpful too.’ - Charis Scott, Scotland Promotion and Engagement Manager


5. Help them learn to save up for the things they really want

As it gets easier and easier to ‘buy now, pay later’, one really useful skill to teach our kids is how and why to save up their money.

‘We have involved our lad in money conversations from a young age. When he wanted to buy a particular toy, and we thought it 'cheap and tatty' we would discuss whether it was worth it. Then agree to wait a couple of weeks, save his pocket money and buy a better version of it. He got a better toy, and learned the value/reward of money and saving. At 15 years old now, and up every morning for his paper round,  he does this for himself and assesses what he wants, how best to buy it and shopping for best deals. Oh yes, he also has more savings than me too!’ - Steve Camps, Senior Debt Advisor


6. Pocket money can be a useful tool

If your family does pocket money, this can be a great way to practise those saving principles mentioned in the last point.

‘We have a 9 year old and have done pocket money for two or three years. It really helped with the asking for things because the standard reply is, “yes, you can save for it with your pocket money”. Having pocket money teaches her so much like the value of money and that if you are patient, you can save for what you want or by then realise you didn't want it so much and get something else.’ - Nathan Davies, Debt Advisor


7. Give them some responsibility to choose how money gets spent

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of giving kids a bit of (age-appropriate) responsibility. If they’re old enough to understand budgeting, why not put them in charge of deciding what to buy for pudding this weekend, or for a day out with the family?

‘Involving my boys in key decisions has always been a priority for us, for example, when on holiday we would always talk openly about our holiday budget and make it clear this is a finite amount,  we would then allocate each boy a 'decision day' and they could decide on what to spend the money on such as going out for a meal or doing an activity.’ - Simon Willett, RDI Project Manager


So there you have it: seven ideas for teaching kids about money so that they grow up equipped and confident to manage their finances. Have you tried any of these strategies with your own children? Do you remember what your own parents taught you about money? Let us know what has worked well for you.

For more tips on managing money, have a look at our CAP Money Course, which includes versions for young people.

Debt and alcohol: a second chance

calendar24 June 2021

Author: hayleytearall

At Christians Against Poverty, our local-church-based centres empower over 2,000 people to get out of debt every year.

Behind every number is a real person with a real story of hope and transformation. Peter is one of those people. Struggling with debt and alcohol, Peter felt hopeless and stuck in a rut.

But with Allan and Duncan (from his local CAP Debt Centre in Inverness) and Josh (CAP head office) supporting him throughout his journey, he found that debt and alcohol began to loosen their grip.

Peter is hugely grateful for all the practical help Allan provided as he navigated the struggles that debt and alcohol brought. He particularly appreciated how Allan provided a couch and kitchen appliances when he moved into his new flat.

This is Peter’s story.

Debt and alcohol: Peter's story

Image reads:

Hi, I’m Peter. I’m 45 years old and I have just been given my bankruptcy letter of discharge after 1 year. This has been a huge weight off my shoulders and my life has been given a much needed boost in the right direction.

I now have my own flat, with my 2 girls staying over regularly. I've had great support from family and friends, but I'm writing this to give special thanks to the good people at CAP. And especially to Allan Dunbar, Duncan Dundas and Joshua, (whom I never met but shared emails). Here is my story.

Around 2018-19 I was living the dream. A good relationship with my partner, (although cracks were starting to appear), a successful high paying career, and I was living well beyond my means. I would take lots of holidays, a flash car, but my main problem, (which would lead to me losing everything), was alcohol. My partner warned me I was getting worse and my denial of the problem led to us separating.

It didn't end there. I was getting into more rows with my boss, hot-headed as usual, and when I hit a run of bad luck with a train breakdown, I was sacked by my boss for missing a flight check-in.

I didn't appeal. I was already in a rut and I felt hopeless. I had no fixed address, (except postal), and I ended up in a temporary refuge, (with a few other ‘interesting’ people). I was still drinking. My now apparent financial problems were clear to see, though I still didn't know what to do.

Then my work coach Morna at Universal Credit gave me a leaflet for Christians Against Poverty. I'd never heard of them, but after some dithering, I came into contact with Allan. I didn't know what to expect because I didn't see how he could help.

Through my time with Allan, and being guided and encouraged, I found it easier to talk to him and I opened up more. I felt the same after being introduced to Duncan, (who I keep in contact with often), and they helped me focus and to help myself and keep myself busy. After 6 months in contact with them, I found myself working hard at staying sober, I slowly became more responsible. It was easy to hide the alcohol side of my life before to family and friends, but I since realised this was due to being in denial and ashamed to admit to them I had a problem.

That's why I felt more comfortable talking with Allan and Duncan. What I find remarkable is I went to CAP for financial help and I received help that I didn't have the strength in me to ask for. They say it's easier talking to a stranger about your problems. Well the people at CAP made me realise I had 1 problem, alcohol, and everything else came from that. And CAP, Allan and Duncan didn't even mention alcohol, just their time spent helping me and supporting me led me to draw my own conclusions. I do struggle with faith but I have to admit I have been given a second chance, and I want to sincerely thank all involved at CAP and for the wonderful work you do.

Get free local debt help today

Whether your story, like Peter’s, involves debt and alcohol, or your own debt story looks different, you could start your journey out of debt today.

Call our Freephone helpline (0800 328 0006) or find out more about how we can help you.

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