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The secret to happiness?

calendar22 February 2015

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

The secret to happiness?

Did you know that when you make a donation to charity, your brain acts in a similar way to when you are having sex or eating chocolate?...It’s true! According to scientific research activity in the brain shows a link between giving money to charity and experiencing pleasure.

Further studies have also discovered that people who spend more of their income on gifts to others and donations to charity are happier than those who spend more on themselves.

However, most of us just know instinctively that “giving is better than receiving,” and are already being generous in giving our money away to those in need. With this in mind, we have compiled some tips about how to make the most out of your giving:

Gift Aid it: If you pay tax then you can make your donations go even further through the government’s tax relief scheme.Gift aid allows charities to claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give and it won’t cost you any extra. For example a £100 donation will be worth £125, so it’s definitely worth completing a gift aid declaration when you give.

Little and often: Giving a few pounds a month by Direct Debit is simple and can be less disruptive to your budget. Also for charities, having a steady stream of income is vital as it allows them to plan for the future.

Reduce your inheritance tax bill: Legacies are a fantastic way to ensure your money does something worthwhile after you’ve gone, instead of just going to the taxman! Giving to charity can actually reduce an inheritance tax bill that could otherwise claim a massive 40 per cent your estate above the threshold, see [url=][/url] for more info.

Valuable volunteering: Time can be just as precious as money, so if you don’t have a lot of money, you could always consider volunteering at a charity near you. It’s also a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and can enhance your CV!

Maximise your event: Achieving a personal challenge is always rewarding, and even better when you can generate some cash for a good cause. If you are doing an event, why not ask local businesses to sponsor you? Websites like are really easy ways to collect sponsorship - post them on social media websites for greater publicity.

Find out more about how you can change lives through supporting the work of Christians Against Poverty.

Budget recipe binder – Tamsin’s quick cottage pie

calendar18 February 2015

Laura Thomas's avatar Laura Thomas

Budget recipe binder – Tamsin’s quick cottage pie

Try Tamsin's quick cottage pie recipe out this weekend – a hearty and tasty dish that the whole family will love!

Tamsin says: 'This is one of my mum’s old staples. Frozen mince is a great way to be able to cook bolognese, chilli and cottage pie on a budget. Using vegetable soup may seem a bit of a cheat, but it makes this recipe really quick and tasty – perfect for busy family life!

Preparation time: 15 minutes, cooking time: 60 minutes, serves: 4-5
Total cost : approx. £3.05*

1tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot or any other veg you need to use up, chopped (optional)
500g frozen beef mince
1 tin vegetable soup
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
800g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
50ml milk
25g butter/margarine
50g grated cheese
Salt and pepper

Put the potatoes in a large pan and cover with boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add the onion. Fry for 5 minutes until soft and then add the carrots or other veg (if using). After a further 2 minutes, add the mince and fry until brown. Add the soup and Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Use the soup tin to add a splash more water to the pan (this way you can swish it around and get all the soupy goodness out the tin!).
Leave to bubble away slowly while you prepare the mash.
Drain the potatoes and add the milk, butter, and some salt and pepper. Mash until fairly smooth.
Pour the pie filling into an overproof dish and carefully spoon the potato on top to cover the pie (I smooth it with a fork to give a pretty rough finish in order to get lots of nice crunchy bits!) If you're using cheese, sprinkle this over the top.
Bake at 200ºC for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling.
Serve with some crunchy greens and enjoy!

*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing

Allow love to blossom - watch Ray and Patti’s story

calendar13 February 2015

John Kirkby's avatar John Kirkby

Watch Ray and Patti's story to see how CAP lifted the weight of debt and gave them space to fall in love again. 

Budget recipe binder – sausage hotpot

calendar30 January 2015

Claire Cowles's avatar Claire Cowles

Budget recipe binder – sausage hotpot

The weather's been pretty chilly of late, so here's a proper winter warmer for you all to enjoy!

This week's budget recipe: Claire's sausage hotpot

Claire, from our Communications team says, 'This is a budget favourite for me and my husband! Cut costs by buying tins and onions from the 'value' ranges, and leave more in your budget to buy better quality sausages if you can. It's really filling on its own, or you can bulk it up by serving with pasta, rice or bread. Enjoy!'

Preparation time: 5 mins, cooking time: 30 mins, serves 4.
Total cost = approx £3.32* (not including optional rice/pasta/bread)

8 pork sausages (or veggie sausages)
2 tins baked beans
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 400g tin kidney beans
2 onions, chopped
1 tbsp mixed herbs
Black pepper
Vegetable oil

Heat the oil in a large pan.
Fry the onions until soft, then add the sausages and fry gently until browned. Keep stirring so the onions don't burn.
Add the baked beans, chopped tomatoes, kidney beans and mixed herbs.
Stir well and season to taste with the black pepper.
Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 5-10mins to thicken the sauce a little.
Cover the pan and simmer for 15-20mins or until the sausages are thoroughly cooked, stirring regularly.

*Prices from Tesco correct at time of publishing

Celebrating another family freed

calendar30 January 2015

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

Celebrating another family freed

Just last week, Steve and Julie received a very exciting call from us telling them that their hard work and perseverance over the last two years has been worth it – they are now debt free!

When asked how to describe how he felt, Steve said: 'Excited, elated, overjoyed, grateful, amazed, buoyant, joyful and so many other adjectives. Becoming debt free has released all of these feelings and so many more in us. We were chained down; now we are released! We felt oppressed; now we are free! We hid away; now we are stepping out! We felt worthless and now we know we are of worth!'

Steve and Julie came to CAP in October 2012. He says: 'We were desperately going in circles – maxing out the credit cards, extending loans – and simply had no control over our money. We felt ashamed and alone in our struggle, and I personally felt I was letting God down every day of my life.'

'Our debts came from easy access to credit, but things came to a head in 2012 when I was made redundant. After sitting down for the first time and properly looking at what we owed, we found we had £67,000 of personal debt (plus the mortgage). By the time CAP came on board, I had reduced that by using redundancy money to £29,000, but I had no income and no other money.'

Despite this seemingly impossible situation, we were able to help them and last week, Steve happened to be on the phone to us the very moment the news came in that their final debts had been cleared.

At CAP Head Office, we celebrate every single person that goes debt free. We blow harmonicas and a Mexican wave goes across the office, so Steve and his family were able to listen in to this over the phone. 

'Hearing the cacophony of noise and celebration was fantastic, and to place the call on loud speaker and share it with two of our children who had been part of the journey with us was also a real joy.'

'We will take away so much that we have learnt by working alongside Christians Against Poverty, such as budgeting and saving, but bigger than that is the love we were shown all the way through our journey, from the moment we first met Angie Rusbridge (our Debt Coach angel!) right through to working with the teams in Bradford. Everyone one of you are amazing.

'My wife often uses a phrase that I am now going to pinch, because right now for us I think it is so true: “Exciting times are coming!”'

Well done to Steve, Julie and everyone else who has worked so hard with us to become debt free. To our clients still working with us, we hope you are encouraged by this story, knowing that one day, we will play our harmonicas for you!

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