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Launching our Church Resources page

calendar06 May 2020

Claire Wong's avatar Claire Wong

Launching our Church Resources page

We’ve been blown away by the UK Church's incredible response to coronavirus (COVID-19). You are showing incredible generosity to the deprived, bringing hope to the desperate and serving the vulnerable with compassion. Many in need are struggling more than ever, but despite the challenges facing us all, the Church is as active and alive as ever.

CAP exists to equip and empower the Church to serve the poorest and most vulnerable in this nation. And at this time of desperate need, we want to share our knowledge and experience to help your church provide crucial support to your community.

CAP’s Church Resources

We’re excited to be launching our Church Resource page. A place where, over the coming days and weeks, we will be adding resources that draw on the experience of hundreds of our partner churches across this nation, as well as CAP's own knowledge and expertise.

It can feel daunting when faced with such a huge need. But we hope these free tools will equip you and your church to effectively serve with confidence and continue to offer the hope of Jesus in your communities during this crisis.

What resources can I expect?

We understand the pressures that church leaders are facing during this time as you seek to guide your congregation through unknown territory, and respond to the need in your local area. So we have gathered resources that we hope provide support to you, your church, and your community. Expect to find:

  • Information on Government and industry support
  • Signposting to organisations providing additional specialist support, for individuals and churches
  • Practical advice on how to serve those in need in your community, starting with our new project: Pathways out of Poverty

We’re committed to supporting you throughout this crisis, and we’ll be working on further content over the next few months. So be sure to check in to the resource page regularly and keep an eye on our social media to be kept up to date with new resources as they’re available.

Thank you for the amazing work you’re doing amongst your congregation and wider community at the moment. God is continuing to use his Church in amazing ways during this time, and we can’t wait to hear of more lives impacted and transformed.

An open letter to the First Ministers of Northern Ireland

calendar04 May 2020

Marianne Clough's avatar Marianne Clough

An open letter to the First Ministers of Northern Ireland

Mrs Arlene Foster MLA and Ms Michelle O’Neill MLA
First Ministers of Northern Ireland
Stormont Castle
Belfast
BT4 3TT

Dear First Ministers,
We are writing to you as leaders of Christian charities in Northern Ireland to offer our support to you
and the Executive at this time.
Our organisations and networks across Northern Ireland are used to stepping up and finding solutions,
creating community, and inspiring and resourcing people to act compassionately. Right now, in the most
difficult of times, we are doing what Jesus told us to do: to love our neighbour.
The Church has a body of highly motivated and experienced volunteers, on the ground in our cities,
towns and villages. Equipped by our charities they are:
● Helping communities manage their money and deal with personal debt
● Informing and supporting those needing government help
● Delivering food parcels to vulnerable people
● Ensuring children in poverty are prioritised
● Supporting young people in their wellbeing and mental health
● Supporting people in recovery from addictions
● Positively intervening in homelessness and rough sleeping
● Building communities and supporting families in a wide range of challenging situations
● Providing befriending and support to prison leavers
● Reaching those who are not online and ensure they are cared for
● Helping people stay healthy and positive, especially those with poor mental health
● Connecting those who want to give and volunteer with those in need
● Bringing hope and addressing loneliness at a very local level

We have been working locally in communities across the North and beyond and we stand ready to work
strategically in partnership with the Executive, local government and agencies at every level to ensure
the best possible response at this time. Please let us know how we can best work with the Government
to direct our specialist resources and volunteer networks to most effective use.
We also recognise that we will need to increasingly work together in the coming months as the country
begins to face the reality of a significant economic downturn, when charities and the Church will be
more needed than ever. We ourselves will not be immune to this downturn and anticipate reductions in
our own income, as across the whole charity sector.
We are committed for the long haul, but with this changing landscape we will also need the Executive to
stand with us – not for our own sake but for those we serve – to ensure this valuable work can meet the
growing need of the coming months and years. We are grateful for the steps the Executive has already
taken to support the sector and we look forward to positive engagement over the coming months as we
work together for the benefit of this place and all our people.
Thank you for your leadership and be assured of our prayers for you and the Executive at this time.
Yours sincerely,

David Smyth, Head of Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland

Alison Flanagan, National Leader, Christians Against Poverty, Northern Ireland

The Reverend Brian Anderson, Mission Superintendent, East Belfast Mission

Mike Royal, Co-CEO, Cinnamon Network UK

Keeva Watson, Regional Development Manager Northern Ireland, Redeeming Our Communities

Diane Holt, Head of Thrive Ireland

Howard Davey, General Secretary, Belfast YMCA

Tony Silcock, CEO, Youth Iniitiatives

Ricky Wright, Chief Executive, Vineyard Compassion

Rev David Rock, The Big House Ireland

£20 makes all the difference

calendar04 May 2020

Kiri Saunders's avatar Kiri Saunders

£20 makes all the difference

‘An extra £20 a week would mean I wouldn't have to worry about being evicted.’

At the end of March we heard the good news that, because of coronavirus, the Government was going to raise Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit payments by £20 per week for the next twelve months. This would mean that some people could get over £1,000 more a year. For those who are living on a low income, such as many of our clients here at Christians Against Poverty (CAP), this additional money will go a long way. 

 

The problem 

But sadly, not everyone in need will be better off. Those still on the ‘old style’ benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA), aren’t included in this help. In real terms, that’s 2.83 million households and one in four (23%) CAP client households. 

On Facebook, we asked people who currently receive Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment Support Allowance a question: What would an extra £20 per week mean to you? 103 people responded.

  • 82% said that £20 would go towards paying basic living costs 
  • 18% said it would buy them occasional home comforts 

Analysis from a cross-party group of MPs responsible for examining the work of the Department for Work and Pensions (the Work and Pensions Select Committee) found the same. Their research showed that 63% of Employment Support Allowance claimants felt that the money they receive is not enough to cover basic living needs (including rent, food, internet, gas and electricity). A further 23% said that it was enough, but they had to cut back in other areas to make things balance.

 

The reality 

Fiona* receives Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and is finding that her money is not stretching far enough. Relying on food parcels and help from others, £20 more a week would go a long way. 

‘I recently lost my Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and also my Disability Living Allowance (DLA), so now I am only receiving JSA. It’s ridiculous. How are we supposed to live? Everybody on Universal Credit is getting £20 a week more. I’ve only just got out of debt with CAP. It’s really bad. I’m going to end up back in debt. 
I’m on a pay as you go phone, and I’m about to run out of internet access. I don’t have the money to top up my credit. I don’t have a phone or internet in my house. My family lives in Ireland but I’m not going to be online and I won’t be able to phone them as I won’t have any credit. It’s been horrible these last few weeks. 
I’ve had food deliveries from the foodbank, which has helped. I have to think positively. At least I have a roof over my head. But an extra £20 a week would mean I wouldn't have to worry about being evicted.’

 

What next?

We don’t want to watch from the sideline. That is why CAP is calling on the Government to increase Job Seeker’s Allowance and Employment Support Allowance by £20 per week, in line with the income boost given to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit claimants. To find out more about what CAP is calling for, read our policy statement. 


*Names have been changed for anonymity 

The people forgotten in the coronavirus outbreak

calendar21 April 2020

Kiri Saunders's avatar Kiri Saunders

The people forgotten in the coronavirus outbreak

A lot can change in a short space of time. No area of life has remained untouched by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. We have all been affected – some of us socially, financially or physically. Many have tragically lost loved ones. Across the UK, there has been a staggering response to the pandemic. Thousands signed up to volunteer to help the vulnerable, millions of pounds have been raised for the NHS and within days the Government rolled out new measures to help businesses and individuals during this time of uncertainty and turmoil. The UK has truly joined together in unity, and yet there still remains many who we mustn’t overlook and forget.

CAP’s External Affairs team

At CAP, we don’t want to just treat the symptoms of poverty; we also want to address the causes. We don’t want to be people who just help pick up the pieces after this pandemic; we want to ensure that people are protected during this difficult time too. That’s why our External Affairs team is working tirelessly behind the scenes to shape and influence the support offered by firms, regulators and government.

Who has been forgotten? 

As people spend much more time at home, living costs – such as food and utility bills – will increase for many. This is why the Government announced a much-needed £20 per week boost for those on Universal Credit and those receiving Tax Credits. But what many won’t realise is that a staggering 2.83 million people will fall through a gap in this vital provision. These people are those who are still receiving ‘old style’ benefits that Universal Credit is designed to replace – things like Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

Around one in five of our clients at CAP receive Job Seeker’s Allowance or Employment Support Allowance. These clients will miss out on the Government’s support package, which is worth more than £1,000 over the next twelve months. Social security is designed to be an anchor for people in difficult times, but the coronavirus crisis will push thousands of households to the brink.

Our action plan

It’s crucial that our social security system keeps households afloat during this crisis. Today we released a policy statement listing three further changes we need to see.

We want to see the Government:

  • Increase Job Seeker’s Allowance and Employment Support Allowance by £20 per week, in line with the income boost given to Universal Credit and Tax Credit claimants.
  • Increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to the median market rents. 
  • Suspend the benefit cap during the pandemic.

While we play our part, will you play yours?

Sadly, a lot of CAP clients will be struggling during this time. Last week, we launched our coronavirus emergency appeal to provide vital support for key needs amongst our clients, from emergency food packages to fuel vouchers, to crucial mobile phone credit to help those who are isolated stay connected during this time.

Your generosity was staggering - we reached our target of £80,000 in just four days! This means we can now provide for at least 1,600 families and individuals who are in desperate need during this pandemic - thank you!

But it’s not time to sit back - the impacts on the most vulnerable are going to be long lasting. For some, this will be the tipping point into financial difficulty. We need to ensure we respond now so CAP can be there for them when they dial our helpline in the coming months.

A gift from you today could ensure we can answer the calls of those ringing for help. It could cover the cost of setting up clients’ plans with us after their first appointment, so our teams can draw up a budget and begin the debt free journey with them. Your gift could see someone through from their first phone appointment with a debt coach through to having a complete solution in place.

Will you provide a lifeline of hope during the coronavirus pandemic?

Donate now

Finding hope in helping others

calendar20 April 2020

Claire Wong's avatar Claire Wong

Finding hope in helping others

Tough times can bring out the best in people. Across the country, we're hearing stories of compassion, generosity, community spirit. From the children putting rainbow pictures in their windows, to the volunteers stepping up to support the NHS, everywhere you can see people taking simple actions that make a meaningful difference to others. There's hope in every one of these acts.

You might feel like there’s not much you can do to help others right now. It’s normal to feel tired, overwhelmed or powerless in response to events like this. But there are simple things we can do to combat those feelings and make a positive difference in the world.

Remember God hasn't changed

Isaiah 41:13 says 'For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear; I will help you."'

We have a kind and courageous God. And we still have each other, even if we can’t meet in person right now.

Join forces for good

Alone, we might be limited in what we can do. But when we work together, we can change lives.

One of CAP's greatest strengths is our network of partner churches. Up and down the UK, compassionate Christians are ready to get to work. We have a plan. We have volunteers. And we have an easy way for you to be involved.

At CAP, we're well placed to understand the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in society. People who've lost jobs due to the lockdown, whose already precarious situations have just been made worse by the outbreak. So we're going to deliver emergency aid to those most desperately in need. We're also planning for the future, making sure we're poised and ready to respond to an increased need for debt help. We want to offer a lifeline to anyone in financial turmoil due to coronavirus.

Get involved!

Our coronavirus appeal means that you can give vital support to someone who needs it, and ensure CAP is ready to help those thrown into financial difficulty by coronavirus. But more than that, you're telling them they're not forgotten or invisible. You're making sure today contains a little bit more hope than yesterday did.

Make a difference to someone's life today. Be part of our coronavirus appeal.

Donate now

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