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John Kirkby receives honorary degree

calendar03 December 2015

John Kirkby's avatar John Kirkby

John Kirkby receives honorary degree

CAP's Bradford-born Founder and International Director reflects on being honoured by Bradford University

Today Bradford University is presenting me with an honorary degree (a doctorate, no less!) for my ‘contribution to the alleviation of poverty and problem debt’.

My family will be there to witness this astonishing event, at the university just down the road from our headquarters at Jubilee Mill.

It is actually difficult to express just how much this means to me. My parents would have been so proud, especially my Dad who died when I was 18, before I had amounted to anything.

This is a great achievement for CAP. Here is an academic institution, irrespective of faith, telling us our work is right up there with the most significant achievements of this city.

I want to acknowledge Matt Barlow who has been with me in this for 16 years, and CAP's CEO for ten years, and my world-class management team, who are simply stunning.

Personally speaking, degrees, universities and academia are really something from an alien environment. Looking back, no one in our family went to university.

To say I was rebellious at school is an understatement – I was positively anti-school. How I scraped out of there with a handful of O-levels is… amazing. I left school at 16 and my first job was banging lids on paint pots! I was young and angry and messed up.

But today that doesn’t matter.

This is my home city and this says, I’m a son of Bradford who they’re proud of and I am so humbled.

I’m going to accept this on behalf of the tens of thousands of people this charity has helped. They are the real heroes – the people who have been and are battling away to transform their lives.

I want everyone, but especially them, to know this:

It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.

It’s not who you were, it’s not the mistakes you made.

It’s having a resilient character and seeking a cause more worthy than anything you could personally seek to achieve. That is what counts.


12 days of Christmas savings

calendar01 December 2015

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

12 days of Christmas savings

Just as much as a Partridge is unlikely to perch in a Pear tree, you’re unlikely to enjoy the New Year in debt. The truth is, Partridges actually prefer the ground, so don’t believe everything you hear – especially when it comes to buying your way to the perfect Christmas. Here are twelve top tips for a cash saving Christmas:

  1. Manage expectations - Talk to your family early on about how much you can realistically afford to spend this year, then set a budget and stick to it. It’s also worth sitting down with your kids and being honest about your situation to avoid disappointment.
  2. Gifts in kind - Time is sometimes worth far more than money, so make your loved ones special vouchers to be exchanged for things like babysitting, cooking or a foot massage.
  3. Treasure hunt - It can be tempting to buy lots of presents to extend the excitement of opening them on Christmas morning. Instead, prolong the fun by hiding presents around the house with clues to find them. You can even give a small chocolate for each correct clue to add to the reward.
  4. Handmade crackers - They’re really easy and cheap to make, plus handmade ones look far better! All you need is some toilet rolls, a pack of cracker snaps (Hobbycraft sell a pack of 12 for less than a pound) and some tissue/wrapping paper and ribbon. You can write your own jokes, make paper hats and pop in a small chocolate as a gift.
  5. Help others - Often the greatest gift is the one we give to others in need. This year, suggest doing something for charity instead, like making a shoebox for a child in poverty, or serving Christmas dinner to the homeless. The experience can often be far more rewarding than receiving a present.
  6. Bring Secret Santa home - Offices love secret Santa because it’s a simple, cost effective way of doing gifts, so why not try it with friends and family? Add creativity by writing a poem or riddle for the person to guess whom it’s from.
  7. Bring and share dinner - If you have a big family, suggest they all come over and bring a dish. That way you can spread the cost, and effort! If you don’t have lots of family, invite the neighbours and share a bit of festive spirit within your community.
  8. Free church activities - If you’re looking for entertainment, churches tend to put on a variety of free events around the Christmas period. Have a look at noticeboards or websites to find out about what’s going on in your area.
  9. Buy what you need - Decide to only buy presents you’d need to buy anyway. For example, if your kids are about to grow out of their clothes buy them new ones from Christmas instead of waiting until the New Year.
  10. Hold a swish - Need a new outfit for a work’s Christmas do? Before you hit the shops, host a clothes swapping party with some friends and see if you can create a brand new outfit for free.
  11. Club together – For bigger gifts ask others pitch in. It works well for relatives who were struggling to think of what to buy your kids, and means you are able to buy them something you couldn’t afford on your own.
  12. Remember what it’s really about – Money may bring you happiness but it’s only ever short-lived. Taking some time out to think about what’s really important helps put things back in perspective. Looking for some peace and quiet? Carols by candlelight and midnight masses are great escapes away from the mayhem. When was the last time you slowed down and reflected on the true meaning of Christmas?

If you’re struggling to pay your bills today and are worried about debt, don’t panic help is at hand.  Christians Against Poverty offers free advice regardless of age, gender, faith or background. Visit or call 0800 328 0006. They also run free money management courses to help you budget those bills and save for the future. Visit to find a course near you.

Hamper day at Head Office

calendar24 November 2015

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

During the holiday season, CAP loves to surprise clients in need with Christmas hampers. These hampers are full of food, fun and festive treats. Recently we put some of these together for clients local to the Bradford area. Watch the video to get a glimpse of what’s involved and consider whether you can help us spread joy this Christmas by providing a hamper to a family in need.

Click here to find out more and donate

Budget recipe binder - Winter warmer pumpkin (or carrot) and bacon soup

calendar05 November 2015

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

Budget recipe binder - Winter warmer pumpkin (or carrot) and bacon soup

Leftover pumpkin? Turn it into something tasty, using Liz's scrumptious autumnal soup recipe.

Serves at least 4
Cost = approx. 37p per serving*

1kg bag of carrots
OR your left over Halloween pumpkin
A pack of value cream cheese
0.5kg onions
Cooking bacon 500g
1 tbsp of curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Requires a hand blender (available for £5 from Wilkinsons)

Chop up the pumpkin/carrots and the onions.
Pour in boiling water until they are fully submerged, and boil until the carrots/pumpkin is soft enough to mash with a fork (the carrot will not fully mash until blended).
Add in the cooking bacon and continue to boil until bacon is cooked.
Blend together using a hand blender (you might need to add more water - depending on how thick you want it).
Add the curry powder, cream cheese and salt/pepper to taste, and blend some more.
Great on it's own or served with bread.

Veggie option? Add a thumb-sized piece of ginger instead of the bacon for nice carrot and ginger soup!

*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing.

CAP’s secret weapon – our External Relations team!

calendar29 October 2015

Dawn Stobart's avatar Dawn Stobart

CAP’s secret weapon – our External Relations team!

This year I’ve been truly humbled by the favour God has given us to ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves… defend the rights of the poor and needy’ (Proverbs 31:8-9).

We build relationships with influential people who can make the changes that matter. We want to help them understand what life is like from our clients’ point of view, and in the last six months alone we’ve met with over 150 organisations! Many came to our Corporate Open Day in June and were so inspired that they are now looking at ways they can work with us. We’re just amazed at the doors God is opening for us to form partnerships with key people in the industry.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), for example, has been so impressed by our work that they’ve signed a national partnership agreement to recommend our services through their JobCentrePlus. Also, just a few months ago we had the largest enforcement agency in the UK visit us at CAP and they were so impacted by our work that they said they'd be willing to do everything in their power to help clients who are working with us.

One area I am particularly passionate about is the injustice around credit card charges for our clients. Although CAP often gets interest and charges stopped for new clients, in some cases credit card companies reapply them when the debt decreases. This moves the goal posts of how long the client has to repay, which feels so unjust to me. However, last month I received the support of a trade body to ask the major banks and credit companies to change their practice – wow!

Our voice is also heard in Parliament, as we regularly attend meetings at the House of Commons, respond to government consultation papers and have a representative at an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Debt and Personal Finance. It’s incredible to be able to raise issues on behalf of our clients in such a powerful place. And we’re not just known for what we say; we’re being recognised for how well we do things. We’ve been nominated for various awards, especially in the area of working with vulnerable clients, and the FCA even referenced CAP several times in their paper on vulnerability.

It’s been an exciting year so far, and we’re not finished yet. Our next major campaign is to tackle the injustice around fuel poverty. We’ve already spoken at National Energy Action’s conference and a major Utility and Telecoms conference, and in December we will be in Parliament discussing our The poor pay more report. This report highlights problems faced by lots of our clients who are struggling on prepayment meters.

So please do pray for us. The more noise we make, the louder our voice gets and the better placed we are to ask people to step into our clients’ shoes and understand that change needs to happen. Praise God for his favour on Christians Against Poverty!

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