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Budget recipe binder: Pasta carbonara

calendar08 July 2016

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Budget recipe binder: Pasta carbonara

A classic dish, this is my go-to recipe when I want something quick and tasty for tea. Ready-made carbonara sauces are often full of saturated fat and salt, so it’s worth taking a few extra minutes to make your own. Plus, you can add or omit any ingredients you fancy – swap the spinach for sweetcorn, the pancetta for chicken pieces, or go all out and throw in the lot! Just remember to keep the heat low when you’re cooking the sauce or you’ll end up with something resembling scrambled eggs…

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Serves: 4
Total cost: £3.36*

Ingredients
300g pasta (uncooked weight)
Vegetable oil
One large onion
130g bacon, chopped into small pieces
285g tinned mushrooms (drained)
380g tinned spinach (drained)
Two large eggs
300ml half fat crème fraîche
Salt and pepper
Sprinkle of dried tarragon

Method
1. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the pasta.
2. Finely slice the onion, then chop the mushrooms and spinach (if not ready done).
3. Crack the eggs into a jug or bowl, add the crème fraîche, salt, pepper and tarragon, and whisk until smoothly combined.
4. Fry the onions in the oil until soft.
5. Add the pancetta and continue to fry for a few minutes.
6. Add the mushrooms and spinach and fry for about five minutes.
7. Reduce the heat. Pour in the egg mixture and stir continuously for five to ten minutes. If it starts to resemble scrambled eggs, turn down the heat, pronto!
8. Combine the pasta with the sauce and serve with a sprinkle of grated cheese on top if you fancy.

Tips
Buy your pasta in bulk, it’s cheaper.
Tinned veg is a winner – it costs less than fresh and you can keep it in the cupboard until you’re ready to make your carbonara. Remember, if there is some left over once you’ve opened the tin, transfer it to a plastic container, keep it in the fridge and eat it within two days.

*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing

The benefits of training

calendar03 July 2016

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

The benefits of training

Almost every job requires training. If you can gain the relevant experience or knowledge before you’ve even set foot in the interview, then you’re one step ahead of the game.

Employers want to know you’ll be able to manage your work confidently and that it’s the right job for you. Whilst some people are fast on their feet and need a job that will keep them moving, others prefer problem solving and testing their intellect. Whatever you’re suited to, having the relevant training will prove it – showing your employer you have the skills they need.

If there’s a career you’re interested in but you don’t currently have the qualifications or experience required, don’t write it off. Find out how to get there, whether or not it’s realistic, and whether it’s worth going for. If you want it enough, find out how to make it possible and go for it.

So, what kind of training is available? For most jobs, there is almost always more than one route to go down. If you need to gain qualifications, it doesn’t have to mean sitting in a classroom. With home-learning courses, evening classes, and practical assessments available, there are many options out there. If you have a family to support, quitting work and moving away to University might not be possible, but you could find part-time work alongside studying at home.

If you struggle to sit down and study, it’s worth looking at other ways to gain experience. Engaging in volunteer work is often equally as valued, and with a good recommendation to back you up, you’re in with a good chance of getting that dream job. How you gain volunteer experience is completely up to you. Whether it’s spending a few hours a week helping at an animal shelter or devoting an entire month to it, you can do whatever works best for you.

As you train, make sure you set yourself constant goals. Keep that long-term target in sight. It will give you the motivation you need to keep working that part-time job alongside, going to those evening classes or completing that home-learning course.

Remember, it’s never too late to gain the experience you need for that job or career change. Completing the relevant training is a great place to start, as it’ll give you confidence, ability and determination.

If you struggle to set goals, aren’t sure what field you’d like to work in or even where to begin looking for jobs, don’t worry. You’re not alone. CAP Job Clubs are here to help. They will teach you vital skills whether it’s building confidence or communicating with employers. For more information check out capjobclubs.org or call your local 0800 328 0006.

Written by Kimberley Taylor

What happens when you can’t afford a funeral?

calendar28 June 2016

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

What happens when you can’t afford a funeral?

No matter how much money you have in the bank, death comes to us all but with funeral costs rising by up to 80% in the last few years, many people struggle to pay for funeral costs. Death can happen at any time and often without warning, so it can be hard to find the average £3,700 it takes to say goodbye. For some, the costs of cremation, burial, funeral service, hearse and refreshments for guests can worsen existing debt problems or push people into debt all by itself.

Shop around

Like anything else when you’re living on a limited budget, it can be worth shopping around to find a funeral director that offers good value and works with you to get the best deal. You’re likely to be feeling fragile, so find a friend who is less immediately impacted by the death to go with you or do some immediate ringing round. There’s no shame in asking for a price list at the start, if you’re not offered one. This is a major purchase and you want to feel in control.

Some funeral directors offer loans for those who are unable to pay. Others will decline new customers who cannot offer a deposit up-front or show that they can pay for the cost of the funeral. If you choose to pay back in instalments, you need to make sure it’s a plan you’ll be able to keep up with. However, most funeral directors are kind enough to ensure you can actually afford to pay if you are honest with what you can afford. It’s a common misconception that a lower cost funeral is somehow disrespectful to the deceased. Most funeral directors will offer a simple, respectful service on their premises that’s a lot easier on your budget.

You may be able to cut down on funeral costs by doing some little bits yourself, for example driving your own cars, buying your own flowers or asking a relative to host the reception afterwards. As with buying anything, you can choose certain elements in favour of others. Does the coffin really need brass handles? You are about to bury it, after all.

Some people with the permission of the vicar, even decide to pass round a collection plate at the service to help pay for the costs, collectively.

When you’re going through the funeral process, vicars and other church leaders can be really good people to talk to. As they’re someone outside the system of funeral directors, and other people you know, it can be helpful to chat with them about any troubles you might be having. Brave it and be honest with them – you’ll be glad you did.

In special cases Church of England vicars even have the right to reduce or waive fees on the church building and the church service, potentially saving hundreds of pounds.

Charities and Government Authorities

There are also many charities that will able to help. For example, Quaker Social Action has set up free practical guidance on how to find an affordable funeral, save money on the cost and find the money to pay. Check it out here [url=http://www.quakersocialaction.org.uk/worried-about-paying-for-a-funeral]http://www.quakersocialaction.org.uk/worried-about-paying-for-a-funeral[/url]

When someone dies and there’s no way for their family to pay, the Government have set up a few ways they can help. If either you or the deceased were claiming benefits, you can apply to the DWP for a social fund award to help pay for the funeral. However, some people have experienced long delays and you might not find out if you will get any money for it until after the funeral which can cause a lot of stress. If you can cope with a possible wait, it’s worth giving it a try.

Public Health funerals are growing increasingly common. They can be carried out by the local authorities or the NHS. They apply when someone dies in debt and no one in the remaining family can afford the cost of the funeral either. Although it’s tragic that they’re getting more common, there shouldn’t be any stigma attached. They are still carried out with all the care and reverence you’d expect.

Christians Against Poverty is proud to be a member of the Funeral Poverty Alliance set up in September 2014 to campaign collectively against funeral poverty.

http://www.quakersocialaction.org.uk/funeral-poverty-alliance

My year as a CAP Lead intern

calendar14 June 2016

Hannah Wright's avatar Hannah Wright

My year as a CAP Lead intern

Looking back over the last several months, it all seems fairly romantic now. I can so clearly see how God guided me towards the CAP internship programme, Lead. A year and a half ago, my student years were rapidly coming to an end. What’s next? I wondered. Where does God want me?

With graduate schemes, career seminars and situational judgment tests exhausted, I had no idea why I wasn’t getting anywhere. And one day, a friend on Facebook posted about a vacancy at CAP.

A Christian charity. A paid internship. Four days in a department suited to me, learning amazing skills. Personal development. A year of journeying! The benefits seemed to be all mine. And that is how it has continued to feel. I know CAP gains a lot from the programme, however I truly really feel that the privilege is the interns’.

So without further ado, these are my top ten reasons why joining Lead was one of the best decisions I ever made.

We all have talents. We just don’t know what they are. The module ‘Who am I?’ involves strengths tests, personality exploring and self analysis to present a framework from which to understand how God has made you and who you are.

CAP really brings the best to the table. CAP sees the internship as kingdom work and investing in the next generation of leaders, employing interns with leadership potential and managers who are selfless, Christ-centred and others-focused. If you are successful in interview, it’s because you are meant to be here.

People care about you. I don’t think I have ever been in such an encouraging, positive environment. I am a key member of the team, not simply the person who boils the kettle. My input and ideas are as valued and considered as a long-serving team member.

You are given opportunities to bring change. Initiative is welcomed. Opportunities I have been given to lead range from managing the kitchen for a two-course formal meal for 50, to hosting a fundraising dinner table, to researching on key areas with a view to presenting a project to the Core Team.

People want you to be all you can be. Ellie, my mentor, is dedicated to seeing me grow. Jaz, who manages the Internship, always has an open door. Crispin, my manager, is open and transparent. Each person I’ve come across at CAP has been keen to challenge and bring insight into what they see in you.

The internship group is an integral part to the year. When else in your life will you be living, learning and working with like-minded people? Our group is intent on caring, loving, upholding and supporting one another. The culture of openness allows vulnerability which transforms and leads to self discovery.

I understand the way of work. I wanted to gain a good working ethic and learn about formal working practices. We have had sessions about managing people, time management and 360 leadership (receiving feedback from those in your team, below you and above you), to name a few.

Your skills are matched to put you in a department that is the right for you where you will thrive and be motivated. Amongst other roles, some speak to clients on the phone; some build budgets and support clients in repaying; some plan events; some support our network of centres and some build and nurture our supporter database.

I am a better me. I have grown so much over the last year. I have a greater understanding of who I am and who God has made me to be. God has truly enabled me to distinguish and understand my character – and I thought I had a pretty good idea of this before I arrived!

My goal is set. Being at CAP has helped me to trace my desires for the future. We all have different paths ahead of us, but for most of us, we know that whatever shape it takes, contact with CAP won’t end mid-August. I know I want to be doing what God is doing for the rest of my life: serving the poor, saving the lost, through the church, across the nation.

To find out more about the Lead programme, pay a visit to capuk.org/get-involved/you/lead-programme.

Every Second Counts: Kevan’s Story

calendar08 June 2016

Marianne Clough's avatar Marianne Clough

Every Second Counts: Kevan’s Story

Kevan has been working for more than ten years as a paramedic in London and it’s one of those jobs where you see people at crises point all the time.

One night in 2014, he was called out, as a first response to a woman who had overdosed on both alcohol and medication.

As he worked to keep her alive, he silently gave the situation to God acknowledging that there was only so much he could do.

“I’m in the fortunate position of being a Christian and I can pray for her while I’m doing it so I sat there and said OK God, I can do this medical stuff, you do the healing, you can do the real work.”

He wondered what had led to this point in her life, a woman with so much lif to live and four children relying on her.

Kev thought: “She’s so, so desperate she thinks they would be better off without her. This would almost certainly have been fatal and even worse, one of the four children would have found her and had to deal with that.”

The last time he saw her, she was being violently sick as she was wheeled into the back of an ambulance by Kevan’s colleagues.

What he didn’t know was God was going to let him see the end of the story as well.

18 months later, he was off duty and relaxing round the table of a CAP event.

A lady called Paula was introduced as a client who had been helped with her debt problems and her face appeared on the screen at the front.

Her hair was carefully done, she was wearing smart clothes and had a bright smile but he immediately recognised her.

This was the lady who had overdosed and nearly died.

“She was happy, smiling, bright, bubbly, no longer alcohol, had given her life to God, had overcome so much, sorted out her debt – and all in just 18 months!”

“I thought, you are a completely different person! I recognise the face but I don’t recognise the person.

“This is such a project, such a charity that it needs to be out there, it needs to be given to people. It’s not just making a difference to people’s finances. This is saving people’s lives.”

If you want to support CAP to reach more people like Paula, click here: capuk.org/savelives

Watch Paula’s story here: capuk.org/paula

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