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‘To fill her stomach, she’d been eating tissues.’

calendar19 June 2018

Dan Lane's avatar Dan Lane

‘To fill her stomach, she’d been eating tissues.’

It’s estimated that 75% of people have a fear of public speaking, yet, every few weeks, whether to large crowds or small, I stand up and I ask people to support our work.

As a charity, we rely on the generosity of tens of thousands of people - people who choose to support us - and each year we have to find more to join us. Each person has a reason they continue to support us, and I have a reason why I will unashamedly stand up and ask people to join us on the journey.

It started ten years ago, when I lived in Headingley in Leeds, not far from the famous cricket ground. I used to walk up the road to catch the bus to take me to the train station to get me to work. I would walk past the same houses day in and day out, never once wondering who lived in them or what their story was. Their lives were separate to my own.

Then, one cold January morning, I arrived at work and we gathered, as we often do, to hear stories of the people we’re helping. These can be stories of people becoming debt free, finding work or breaking free from life controlling habits. They can be stories about people making a commitment or joining their church community.

The opening words caught my attention: ‘This story comes from our West Leeds Debt Centre’. The West Leeds Debt Centre was run by a church I passed on my commute every single day. My house was in the catchment area for this debt centre. Immediately I knew that whatever was said next was about my community, my neighbour.

The next words spoken still impact me today. These opening lines have never left me:

‘When we first met K, she was eating from a box of tissues. Her benefits weren’t due to be paid for another week but she’d run out of food. To fill her stomach, she’d been eating tissues.’

This was my neighbour. Every time I passed those houses I wondered, does K live there? Was there someone in these houses unable to eat, sitting in the dark unable to afford electricity?

UK poverty is real with millions trapped in its miserable grip – words from our vision statement. For me the most powerful word is UK. It’s here, around our lives. People are living trapped in poverty.

Wherever there is poverty or injustice in the world it’s wrong, but to find it here, so close to my doorstep – could it be true? Are there really people living here in abject poverty? In the house next door or across the road?

At Christians Against Poverty we see this on a daily basis. People whose lives have hit rock bottom. 1 in 3 contemplating or attempting suicide. Marriages on the rocks. Kids going to school in worn out clothes.

In fact, over my time at CAP, I’ve heard of monthly food shops that consist of just two bottles of lemonade and a packet of biscuits. People cooking on a stove in their garden. People too fearful to leave the house for years! UK poverty is real – and millions are trapped in its miserable grip.

It’s for these people that I keep pushing to grow our work across the UK. It’s for them that I’ll seek more and more churches who want to impact their communities. And it’s for them that, whenever I can, however I can, I’ll ask people to join in and support CAP.

Would you join us and help more people break free from the grip of poverty? Become a Life Changer today.

Dan Lane is CAP's Director of Fundraising and Marketing. He grew up in Kent, moved to Yorkshire thirteen years ago, and has been doing his bit to beat UK poverty at CAP since 2007. He's passionate about the transformation that happens when people find freedom through CAP’s services and hopes you will be too!

Our mid-year impact report

calendar13 June 2018

Matt Barlow's avatar Matt Barlow

Our mid-year impact report

This year, through our Created for Community campaign, we’re celebrating the way God uses CAP to rescue people from isolation. I’m pleased to say the first half of the year hasn't disappointed. Let’s take a look at some highlights and the impact CAP has had so far in 2018.

Top highlights

Back in May, we had a visit from TV’s Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis, whose public endorsements of CAP always lead to an increase in calls to our helpline. It was a pleasure to show him around CAP HQ and say thank you in person. ‘Every time I mention Christians Against Poverty, I get people who tell me how it’s changed their lives,’ he said.

In March, we launched our annual client report at the House of Lords. The event was attended by MPs, members of the credit industry and national journalists, who gathered to hear the impact CAP is having across the UK. CAP’s Patron, Archbishop Justin Welby, spoke at the event, as well as some very brave clients who shared their stories with everyone there.

It’s also been an incredible year for our Founder, John Kirkby, who last week was included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and will receive a CBE later in the year. John was awarded the Langton Cross for Community Service back in January too. 'When it comes to inspiring others, sharing his story and championing the poor, John is always ready to go again,' said Archbishop Welby, who presented the award.

CAP Debt Help in numbers

When a new client calls our helpline, it’s the first step in their journey; the moment they’re reminded that they’re not alone and there’s always hope. The year got off to a great start, as January was our biggest month in history for booking in new debt clients. Overall 4,474 bookings have been made since the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, our local centre teams have visited over 3,883 new homes. When our frontline workers step through a new client's door, they no longer have to carry the burden of debt by themselves. They’re offered not only a practical way forward, but friendship too.

Our face-to-face service means frontline workers are often in a position to invite clients to church, where they can come to find a welcoming community and discover more about Jesus. This year, 326 people have chosen to make a faith commitment because of their involvement with CAP.

Depending on a client’s circumstances, the journey out of debt can take up to five years. That’s where our long term casework teams step in, always on the end of the phone to offer a vital source of support and advice. So far this year, they’ve answered over 20,000 calls.

1,151 families have completed their journey and become debt free – an increase of over 10% compared to the first half of last year. That’s 1,151 families that can now shift their focus to other things, like rebuilding relationships broken by debt, and their own health and wellbeing.

Group services in numbers

38% of CAP Job Clubs members find work – higher than any other initiative of its kind – and so far this year 1,670 members have attended a job club. 731 have taken part in a CAP Life Skills group. Community is an integral part of our group services, where members meet others in similar situations and can support one another.

In May, we launched Fresh Start for people struggling with dependencies, and we’re excited to see the fruit this will bear in the coming months – watch this space!

The future

As Galatians 6:9 tells us, we must ‘not become weary in doing good’. There are more people out there who desperately need our help, and areas that still aren’t covered by a CAP centre. We need more churches to take a stand against poverty in their communities by opening a CAP centre, we need more people to spread the word, we need more people to say ‘yes’ to supporting CAP and ‘yes’ to speaking up for the poor, vulnerable and lost across this nation.

That said, I for one am very, very excited to see what the second half of 2018 has to offer.

Don't miss out on our latest news updates - follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Matt Barlow joined CAP at the beginning of 1999 and, having spent seven years building the systems and infrastructure to support CAP’s growth, was appointed UK Chief Executive in 2006. In 2018 he also took over as International Chief Executive. He lives with his wife, Josie, and their two children.

You can volunteer your time, no matter how much time you have

calendar06 June 2018

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

You can volunteer your time, no matter how much time you have

It’s Volunteers’ Week, the time of year where we celebrate all the amazing things volunteers do for charities by giving their time to help and hopefully inspiring people to do the same.

As a volunteer myself, I can tell you it’s a hugely worthwhile and fulfilling thing to do. You learn, you develop your skills, you do your bit to help others, and you make a difference. And it's something you can do with whatever time you have, whether it’s the odd evening here and there or several months! There are lots of charities that would love to have you on board, both in the UK and abroad, and, of course, here at CAP.

If you have between two hours and two days a week free

Maybe you work and don’t have much time to spare. That’s OK – provided you can volunteer regularly and reliably, most charities will appreciate any time you can offer. Trussell Trust are always in need of volunteers to help out in their network of foodbanks, and there are lots of different roles available. Read more here.

If you have an evening free each week

Would you be up for getting involved with evening groups run through your local church? Well, there are CAP Money Courses, Job Clubs, Life Skills groups and Fresh Start groups going on up and down the country, many of which run in the evening. Click here to find your nearest group service and use the contact details to find out more about volunteering opportunities.

If you’re really stretched for time

If your schedule is packed and you’re not able to make a regular commitment, you could still do your bit by raising money for charity. Offer your time and skills to run an event (such as a coffee morning, bake sale or sponsored cycle) and raise funds to make a big difference in people’s lives. Head here to sign up to do something extraordinary and raise money for CAP.

I have several months and want to go abroad

Anyone who has volunteered abroad will likely tell you what a life changing experience it can be. Tearfund offers placements overseas ranging from two weeks to six months long in various countries. Click here for details.

I have several months and want to stay in the UK

We have just the thing for you! If you’re passionate about seeing an end to UK poverty and would love to get an insight into the workings of an award-winning charity, why not join us in Bradford for one of our placements? The CAP Internship is a paid, year-long placement starting from September, where you work within a team at CAP HQ that fits your skills and ambitions, and build your individual skill set through sessions from high level leaders, all while contributing to the charity in a powerful way. Engage is a shorter placement, lasting for four weeks over the summer, where you gain charity experience and help out in the CAP café at New Wine. Click here to apply for the CAP Internship and here for Engage.

Making technology work for us: the best apps for money management

calendar24 May 2018

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Making technology work for us: the best apps for money management

What’s the best way to find out which are the most useful budgeting apps on the market? Well, as we’re all pretty excited about money management at CAP, we asked our 300 staff and our 11,000 Twitter followers which they like and why.

Unsurprisingly at CAP HQ, most of us use and love the CAP Money* budgeting system to keep our own finances under control so we wanted to know which apps were good at supporting that kind of thinking.

CAP Money Online allows you to break down your budget each month into categories and sub-categories so you can sort your money into three accounts: Regular Payments, Cash Account and Savings Account. This means you always have your essential bills covered and know what you have left to spend and save for the future.


Monzo received a lot of love at CAP HQ, and also won our Twitter poll with a massive 59% of the votes. It works like a normal online bank but it definitely has a few extra tricks up its sleeve. Open a current account and you’ll receive your Monzo card, with which you can load up and then pay for everyday spending, as well as take out cash from a cashpoint. It’s great for spending abroad too.

The app gives you real-time spending updates and automatically puts your spend into different categories so you can see where your money is going. For example, it recognises that you’ve filled up at a petrol station and immediately puts that spend into ‘travel’. It also allows you to set monthly spending targets by splitting up your money into different ‘pots’. This means you know what you have to spend and when you’re needing to rein it in.

Another genius feature is the ability to freeze your account immediately from your phone if you lose your card (and instantly ‘defrost’ if you find it in your other jacket pocket).

Monzo was also the first bank to respond to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute’s challenges over gambling, allowing you to block your account from being used to gamble online.


Budgeting software apps like Goodbudget are set up around the idea of dividing your budget into different categories at the beginning of each month, which gels beautifully with the CAP Money system.

You have to limit yourself to ten ‘envelopes’, unless you’re willing to spend around £4.50 a month or £37.50 a year to upgrade to a Plus account. However, Goodbudget also offers a way of linking your account to multiple phones and to your computer (if you prefer). This means everyone in the household budget gets updates and knows what money is coming out and where it’s going.

Pete, on Twitter, told us, ‘I’ve used @goodbudget for years with the CAP Money system. Envelopes for cash and savings accounts in your phone and syncing with your partner. It’s intuitive, visual & brilliant.’


Yolt came up as another popular app with our Twitter followers. You can use it to synchronise your existing online bank accounts. If you want to plan your spending without opening up a new account with an online bank, or if you want to pick and choose where you keep your money, Yolt could be a great way to go. From a CAP Money point of view, if you have your regular payments going out of one bank, and your cash in another, Yolt can bring it all together and chart your spending to keep you on track.


Fudget is a simple way to keep track of your expenditure. It allows you to make a list of incomings and expenses. You can prioritise your spending and plan ahead. You can add and reorder which you deal with first, and once you’ve paid off one of your expenses you can either tick it off, or repeat it if it’s something you spend money on regularly.

Danny, from our team at CAP HQ, says Fudget is his favourite, ‘I use it alongside CAP Money to keep a record of all my expenditure outside of my Direct Debits.’

Wally Lite

Wally tracks your daily budget, giving you a single number to focus on throughout the day. You can add space for income (which would be the same as your monthly cash allowance), and the app will track how much of your money is left. You can organise your spending into categories and sub-categories and even has the handy ability to track your net worth and cash flow.

Money Dashboard

Money Dashboard came third on our Twitter poll, winning 12% of the vote. It holds the title of Best Personal Finance App of 2017 and 2018. So, what’s it got to offer?

Essentially, it puts all your accounts, savings and cards in one place, giving you instant access to all at once. This gives you a true view of your finances at a glance and shows you exactly what you’re spending on.

The graphs are wonderfully clear, showing you just how close to busting your budget for say, takeaways, really is… and yes, ultimately that’s a good thing (for both your waistline and your bank balance!) Joining everything together in one app seems very user-friendly.

One fan is Laurence, from CAP’s IT department. He uses Money Dashboard alongside his CAP Money budget and, as the IT department know everything, that’s as good a recommendation as you can get.


This is a card which can work straight from your phone, so you don’t even need to order a piece of plastic – and that’s got to be good news for the environment. You can upload money to the ‘card’ and spend it anywhere in the world. You’ll never have to use a bureau de change again (as long as you remember to pack your charger and the correct travel socket).

Angie, from CAP’s Finance department, described it as a prepaid Mastercard with a money management app, saying, ‘I got it initially for using abroad but now I use it every day, transferring my weekly cash to it. The app tracks your spend by type and gives you great info on where your money has gone. You can turn contactless on and off and use it to transfer money to friends and family (or do a bank transfer). You can also choose to round up your transactions and ’save’ your small change in a vault for a particular purpose.’


If you’re not the most numerical person and find it hard to make sense of a spreadsheet, meet Cleo, she’s new on the block. She’s like Siri’s answer to finance.

Once you have the app, you can ask her anything about your spending or saving in a text format and she’ll answer in words rather than graphs. For example, you say, ‘Hey Cleo, I need to save some money’ and she’ll text you back with, ‘Sure, how much and what for?’ or you could say, ‘Hey Cleo, how much did I spend on coffee last month?’ and she’ll tell you.

How very matey! Perhaps the encouragement you need to stick to the budget?

*Not done a CAP Money Course yet? What are you waiting for?! Find your nearest here.

How I paid off more than £10k of debt in a year

calendar14 May 2018

Lynn James's avatar Lynn James

How I paid off more than £10k of debt in a year

Back in January this year I was asked to be a guest on BBC4 Money Box. I was invited on to talk about credit card debt and what having that meant for me. They wanted a personal story to get into the nitty gritty of why people are getting into so much debt. One of my fellow guests was Daniel Kelly from Christians Against Poverty, and I got to learn about what they did to help people. It was my pleasure to write a post for CAP after such an insightful radio show.

My story

April 2017 was my crisis month, the month I added up all my credits cards and faced the total. I remember previously burying my head in the sand for a few months, desperate to celebrate my 40th birthday in style with a party and a nice holiday to Las Vegas. I wasn’t going to let lack of money stop me from celebrating this big milestone.

I had started my own business, Mrs Mummypenny, during 2015 and needed some finance to fund the business in the first year of trading, that went onto a consumer credit card. We went on a family holiday to Spain during 2016. All these events combined culminated in a total debt of £16k. A scary big number that, to be honest, felt too big to face when I added it all up.

I had taken redundancy in 2015 and found it difficult to adjust to a life where I had to spend less money. If we had cut back straight away and adjusted our life to a lower income we would not have found ourselves in this mess. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The amount of £16k really did feel like the biggest mountain to climb and a real stress and weight on my shoulders. I thought about it several times a day. But I had belief that it could be paid off. If I kept chipping away using the strategies to be described, then I would be able to get that debt down to nothing.

Something shifted in my financial brain. I no longer wanted to live life with a constant credit card bill and monthly repayments, as I had done for my entire adult life. I wanted freedom from debt and I wanted to start saving. How good would it feel to pay for bigger things before we got them? How amazing would it feel to have an emergency safety net of funds just in case the boiler breaks down, or the roof suddenly starts leaking.

These were the stages I went through to start the process of repayment of the debt.

Move the debt to as cheap an interest rate as possible

The first task was to refinance the debt to ensure as much of it was on 0% credit cards for as long as possible. Most of the debt was moved to a 0% credit card, I was fortunate to still have a strong credit rating. I had one balance of £2k on an interest paying card, it was priority number one to clear this card first.

Saving money mission

We went back to basics with our monthly budget, I recommend everyone does this every few months. Everything we spent money on was written down and then I went through every line to strip it back. I looked at everything from our energy, mobile phones, broadband, TV packages, insurances to mortgage. Pots of money were set aside for all those non-monthly irregular bills, car servicing, school trips, haircuts, dentist. Every single direct debit was questioned if it was an essential. Savings were cancelled, charity donations were cancelled, Netflix gone, non-essential insurance was gone.

Food spend

Our food spend was too high, despite having already shifting our grocery shop from Tesco to Aldi a year prior to this crisis point. This had already saved us £40 per week. The takeaways had to stop, and my focus shifted to good old-fashioned home cooking. Takeaways were costing around £30 each time so you can see how easily the cost would add up, five per month was £150. We would always make sure there was easy to cook food in the freezer, like pizzas for days like those. Meal planning is a great idea to plan for the week and then write your shopping list afterwards. Go through your freezer regularly to see what food can be used up.

No-spend months

We had two months during 2017 where we had no spend months. A no spend month means no spending on anything non-essential, groceries, petrol, business travel were still allowed. Not allowed were nights out with friends, no café coffees, no days out with the children that cost money, no bacon butties for breakfast at football. It’s tough to do it but honestly give it a try and you will be surprised at how much you save. Each month we did it we saved an extra £300 per month.

Keep a spending diary

This is such a way to get in control of your spending and you will be surprised at all the little things you forget about that add up. At the end of each day I write down what I spend in a notebook and reflect each week on what I won’t spend the money on the following week. I write everything in here, from petrol and groceries to coffee, lunch, parking, magazines. It helps you to be mindful of what you are spending.

Making my business work harder

I run a website, Mrs Mummypenny, where I write about money. I write about debt, savings, pensions, investments, budgeting. Everything money, but written in a simple, easy to understand way. By 2017, my business had been trading for two years and has turned that magic point where I started to make decent money. I worked hard to earn more income than I needed to pay the monthly bills. This extra income was split 50% into the creation of an emergency fund and 50% into my debt repayment. Once my emergency fund had reached a couple of months’ worth of safety net, I started pouring more money into debt repayment. I was able to pay off bigger chunks.

Declutter and sell as much stuff as possible

This is not my favourite thing to do but it’s so worth it. Make money from all the clutter sat around your house. I sold some branded clothes that no longer fitted and made around £300. I sold off a few bits from the garage, lawn mower, hedge strimmer for another £100. I sold some unused kitchen equipment for another £100.

Mystery shopping

I did many mystery shopping assignments and earned a few hundred from them. I mystery shopped at the big supermarkets, banks and gyms, sometimes a few a day. I even did a spa mystery shop (my favourite, a free day at the spa including treatment and I was paid!) This made me around £500 over a few months.

An update to the debt story

One year later, May 2018, and I have £5,000 left to repay. I am so proud of what I have achieved to repay this debt and to have cleared more than £10k. But its been hard, or maybe its been different. We have focused on treating the boys with things that are free or cheaper, trips to the park, baking cookies at home, creating adventures in the garden. But it will all be worth it when that debt is gone.

You can follow me, Mrs Mummypenny on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram here.

Lynn James is a personal finance blogger living in Hertfordshire with her husband and three young boys. She is the founder of Mrs Mummypenny, a personal finance and lifestyle blog. Her content focuses on healthy wealth, body and mind. She spent most of her career until 2015 in the corporate world working for companies like Tesco, HSBC and EE.

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