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Superhero charity ideas: 5 ideas for young families

calendar17 March 2021

Author: Helen Richards

Superhero charity ideas: 5 ideas for young families

‘You get what you get and you don’t get upset!’

As parents it can be frustrating when our children don’t seem to appreciate what they have, and you may have resorted to phrases like this one in the past. But there are lots of ways to chat to your kids about privilege, gratefulness and social justice – ways that will encourage action from within, not just because they’re being told to do something nice.

Today, we’re going to look at the idea of ‘everyday superheroes’.

Do your kids love Iron Man? Are they charging round the living room pulling gravity-defying stunts like Black Widow? Well, teaching children about ‘everyday superheroes’ can be a great way to put all that energy to good use!

And at the end of this post, we’ll share five fun superhero charity ideas to kick-start your family’s social justice journey.

What is a superhero?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines superheroes as ‘characters who have special strength and use it to do good things and help other people.’

Over the last year, we’ve seen thousands of people fulfil this definition, from the NHS staff using their skills to care for the sick, to the delivery drivers ensuring our food supply is maintained. They’re all superheroes!

Chat to your children about who has helped them during lockdown, and what special gifts they used to do this. Here are some examples:

Help your kids become real-life superheroes!

Everyone has superhero skills – you just have to look for them. And when we use our skills and gifts and position to help others, we become world-changers to the people around us.

So we’ve pulled together a list of fun superhero charity ideas for you to have a go at as a family. Why not have a read through these ideas with your little ones and pick one to try together?

Five superhero charity ideas

Donate books

You probably have lots of books lying around at home. Why not choose some that you’ve finished and donate them to your school so other children can enjoy them? If you’re not at school at the moment, you could gift them to a friend who lives near you instead.

Do some recycling

Being a superhero is not just about looking after people – we need to take care of our planet too. Could you take some bottles to the bottle bank? Or wash out some food cartons so that they can be recycled?

Super skills

What are you really good at? Can you play the flute? Can you speak French? Are you a footballing whizz? Maybe you’re good at washing cars or making lunch? Why not use your super skills to raise some money for charity and offer your skills in exchange for money! You could even get some friends to join in to raise even more!

Drop off some clothes at a charity shop

Some families have very little money to live on. If you have some nice clothes that are too small for you now, you can take them to a charity shop for other people to buy at a much lower price. Charity shops also use the money they earn to do other amazing projects in local communities. (Lots of charity shops have local bins for donating clothes or can even pick up from your house, so you can still donate to them, even if the shops are closed).

Be a monster superhero

Lots of superheroes transform when they start doing their superhero good deeds (think Hulk from The Avengers or Ladybug from Miraculous). Could you ask people to sponsor you to paint your face a bright colour for a week? Or maybe you could colour your hair instead? Send the money you raise to a charity that you care about.

These are just five charity superhero ideas to get you thinking. Maybe these ideas have even sparked some more ideas that you'd like to try out as a family!

Want more family-friendly superhero resources?

If you're interested in getting your hands on some more family-friendly resources to explore UK poverty and justice with your children, good news: we’ve got some Marvel-ous (!) new things coming up! By letting us know you're interested below, we'll make sure you're the first to know when they launch!

 
 

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Too deep in debt to break free? Why we need to simplify the solution

calendar18 February 2021

Author: Laura Kirkham

Too deep in debt to break free? Why we need to simplify the solution

My name is Laura and I work as a Senior Debt Advisor in the Insolvency Team at Christians Against Poverty. Our team helps those clients who simply can’t afford to repay their debts within a reasonable timeframe.

There are two main types of insolvency, if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Most people have heard of bankruptcy, but a Debt Relief Order, or DRO, is a form of insolvency for people with low incomes and few assets. This is for people whose budget is simply too tight to pay back their debts, and they don’t own much of value that they could sell towards repayments either.

Most of the clients we help in the Insolvency team fall into this category: on average they’d have spent 58 years paying back all their debts, so a DRO is a chance to get their lives and their finances back on track. However, we find that many low income clients are excluded from a DRO because they fall short of one or two criteria. (Join our campaign now to make DROs accessible to those who need them!)

During my time at CAP, I’ve experienced many challenging conversations with clients where I have to tell them that a change in circumstances means they are no longer eligible for a DRO. In these conversations I have to tell them that the fees for bankruptcy are seven times more than a DRO, costing £680 instead of £90. The discussion is never an easy one to have.

Simplify the solution to problem debt

This month, CAP has launched a new report called Simplify the solution, which builds the case for why the eligibility criteria for a DRO must change. At the same time, the government body overseeing insolvencies, the Insolvency Service, launched a consultation for changes to the monetary eligibility criteria for a DRO. As momentum builds, this is a perfect time to see changes and to help more people access an affordable debt solution.

The problem with the DRO debt limit

Tony* was all set for a DRO, but a final check revealed that one debt balance was higher than we had originally listed. This brought his total debt balance to over £20,000. A DRO has a debt limit of £20,000, and so he was no longer eligible for it. Tony is not alone. More than half of CAP clients excluded from a DRO have less than £30,000 of debt, which is the new limit proposed by the Insolvency Service. But our research shows that increasing the limit to £50,000 would cover a huge 92% of CAP clients who are currently excluded based on debt balance alone. They are living on extremely restricted budgets, have no real assets that they could sell to pay off their debts, and have no realistic chance of saving the £680 they would need to pay for bankruptcy.

The vehicle limit

It’s no secret that good quality things tend to last longer than those of poor quality. Cheap shoes will often be walked into the ground within a few months, whereas a pair of expensive shoes may last for years. The same applies to vehicles and this is the perpetual cycle of poverty that a lot of our clients find themselves in. Cheap old cars repeatedly break down, which can mean you’d spend more on repairs each year than if you’d been able to afford a more reliable car in the first place. And that’s money that people on the tightest budgets just don’t have spare.

Our client Susie* found herself caught in this trap, so her parents gave her a new car which allowed her to drive her daughter to hospital for frequent appointments. This was great news for Susie. However, since the new car was worth £1,500, it meant she was no longer eligible for a DRO. Even if she applied for bankruptcy, it risked her car being taken and sold by the Official Receiver to pay back some of her creditors. By keeping the vehicle limit at £1,000, clients who need cars are having to decide whether to sell reliable vehicles and risk paying more in repairs down the line.

Debt Relief Orders bring real hope to people who find that they can access all the freedoms of having their debt cleared without all the unwanted stigma or costs of a bankruptcy. The existing eligibility criteria for DROs is no longer suitable. The Insolvency Service is proposing to make great steps this year to expand the DRO criteria allowing more people to access this solution to their debts, but we are asking them to revisit their proposed changes to offer more of the country’s most vulnerable people a way out of the darkness of debt.

You can help make a fairer system for people trapped in poverty! Add your voice to our campaign today, and tell your local MP that you want DROs to be accessible for those who need them. Use our ready-made template to email your MP.

*Names have been changed.

Photograph taken by Kathryn Anne Photography

A message from Paula Stringer

calendar10 February 2021

Author: Paula Stringer

A message from Paula Stringer

As we share the news that, 25 years after founding the charity, John Kirkby is moving on from his role here at CAP UK, I want to take a moment to express my admiration and gratitude for the incredible legacy he will leave.

I have had a passion for the work of Christians Against Poverty for many years, so after joining the organisation in 2018, it was an incredible privilege to be asked to take over running the organisation just over a year ago. My own personal experience of debt and some extremely difficult challenges really solidified my belief in, and passion for, the work that CAP does.

My story

A few years ago, my husband Dan and I owned a deli, coffee shop and restaurant in Marple. I was working for the BBC at the time but when the recession hit, despite our best efforts, the business didn’t make it. Debts sprang up from every angle, we had to let our amazing staff go, and Dan was completely broken. Our only option was to go through bankruptcy.

Sadly, Dan ended up very, very poorly and unable to work for a whole year as he recovered. It was a really difficult time for all of us and I could have never anticipated the impact this would have on our marriage, our family, or our relationships. 

There was a key moment during our recovery when we realised that, if this had been so incredibly difficult for us, even though we had my Christian family supporting us, a local church family praying and rallying round and an income coming in, then how on earth did anyone who didn’t have these things ever get through it? We realised the enormous impact debt has on people’s lives and knew that, if we could, we wanted to do something to help. We had no idea what though at that time. As usual, God did!

There were times where I thought Dan and I were going to get to breaking point, it was so hard, but God did get us through it. The experience gave me an understanding of the true trauma of debt. The shame, and how judged you feel as a person just going through those kinds of things and how hard it is – I’ve lived it.

Working with John

So, I ended up joining Christians Against Poverty and, as I said earlier, what a privilege it is. John founded the most incredible organisation and God not only used John’s own experiences and past to drive his passion for the poor but also gifted him with an entrepreneurial spirit, sheer grit and determination. Without John’s personal commitment and sacrifice in the past 25 years this country would not have seen as many people’s lives changed and people following Jesus. It has been my honour and joy to work alongside, and get to know, John more deeply over the last year or so and I have committed to keeping the foundations of this organisation standing on the same ground they were built on – Christ.

What’s next?

CAP looks different now to how it did ten years ago and it will likely look different again in another ten years but there will be no change to the way God has always been absolutely central to our vision. We will not lose sight of his call on us to serve and include the many people for whom poverty and debt are ruining their life. And we will never turn away from reaching those people through partnerships with his Church.

Leadership is always a temporary assignment — always. It is a temporary assignment because leaders do not ultimately own the teams, ministries or organisations. They simply steward what God has entrusted to their care for a season. A wise leader embraces the temporal reality of leading, and they prepare the ministry for the future. This is exactly what John has done. Even before I joined CAP, for many years, John held an ‘open handed’ attitude to CAP’s future. That means we now have a team of empowered, experienced staff who have been carrying CAP’s vision extremely well for many years. This is an incredible, strength-giving gift for a founder to give to an organisation, and it means that the vision, mission and culture are not built entirely on the shoulders of one person. When John leaves later this year, CAP will not change identity or lose any of what makes it ‘CAP’: of that we are certain.

As we look back on what has been achieved in the past 25 years, it’s not about a trip down ‘memory lane’. It’s a moment to celebrate the foundations laid through our history, ready for us to build on in the future. And God has our future in his hands. I am just thrilled that I still get to work alongside John doing some of the International work for CAP so I won’t have to miss out on the privilege of working with him.

Five reasons to feel positive right now

calendar22 January 2021

Author: Gemma Pask

Five reasons to feel positive right now

Let’s face it, we’re all feeling a bit rubbish at the moment. The combination of yet more pandemic-related restrictions, homeschooling, isolation, grief, loss, miserable weather and short, dark days has left many of us feeling drained and despondent. Even for the most optimistic personality, it can be difficult to put a positive spin on the current situation. 

Praise God then that, in the midst of all this darkness, his light shines as brightly as ever. There’s joy to be found all around us. Sometimes we all need a reminder to focus less on the challenges we’re facing and more on how God is able to bless us through the small details of our ordinary, everyday lives. Now, more than ever, it’s these things to which we must hold tight.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel

The main difference between the first lockdown and this one, for me, is that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Though it may seem painfully slow at times, the three approved COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out across the UK and, gradually, vulnerable people are getting the protection they need from this virus. As it stands, more than four million people across the UK have received their first dose. Why not set aside some time today to pray for the vaccine roll-out in the UK and across the globe?

We’ve spent more time with friends and family (if only virtually)

Whether you’re dealing with a house full of kids 24/7 or experiencing the isolation of living alone during lockdown, we’re all facing our own challenges right now. I feel extremely grateful that this pandemic happened in the modern age, when the internet, smartphones and virtual connections exist. I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent more time video calling over the last year than I ever would have ordinarily. The physical separation has pushed me to prioritise my relationships more than I normally would, and I think they’ve benefitted as a result.

For all you parents doubling up as homeschool teachers, perhaps it feels exhausting most of the time and it may be hard to see the positives. Viv, a dad-of-two, says, ‘The lockdown has taught us about slowing down. Weekends used to always be about “where shall we go today?” and now we’re enjoying going for walks locally or doing things around the house like playing board games. It’s shown us that life doesn’t have to be full and active all of the time. We’re learning that enjoying and investing in time with each other is what matters most.’

Mum Claire said, ‘It’s an opportunity to think about what I want my daughter to learn right now. A chance to be right there as she navigates a really topsy turvy world to help her feel steady and safe.’

What are some positives about your current situation? Everyone’s lockdown looks different, so try to not make comparisons – that which someone else is finding really easy may be challenging for you, and vice versa. Leave a comment below and let us know.

We’ve spent more time outdoors

If there’s one good thing that’s come from the social restrictions, it seems to have pushed many of us to spend more time outside. When the snow hit Britain in January, my social media feeds were filled with photos of happy children whizzing down the hillside aboard a sledge, and misty lakes where families had taken the opportunity to go for a wander. Even in the chilly weather, I find something so refreshing about being outside and feeling free, which is probably what we’re all seeking right now. Thank God for his creation and the opportunity it allows us to escape, if only for a short while. Could you find time this weekend to wrap up warm and get out and about?

God never stops changing lives

Here at CAP over the last year, we’ve been constantly adapting our services in line with Government guidelines, but praise God that this hasn’t stopped our work from continuing. Amidst all the challenges, lives are still being transformed through the work of CAP and the Church.

If you’re signed up to receive our postal mailings, you’ll have had your celebration of 2020 through the letterbox recently, filled with uplifting stories from clients who found joy and hope despite the pandemic. If not, you can read the stories online here. I assure you that these five remarkable clients, and the way Jesus has touched their lives, will give you a welcome dose of positivity!

When everything around us is uncertain, Jesus is unchanging

What I love about Hebrews 13:8 is that, regardless of the translation, the wording is more or less exactly the same. It’s just a clear, powerful message: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever’.

When everything around us feels scary and uncertain, we can hold tight to the one who never changes, who is always faithful, always good, always stronger than any challenge we may face. The song God is able by Hillsong Worship always helps me to remember this – you can have a listen to it on CAP’s worship playlist, as well as loads of uplifting songs to help get you through this season.

Remember to let us know your reasons to feel positive in the comments below.

What’s data got to do with it?

calendar15 January 2021

Author: Martin Cowles

What’s data got to do with it?

Data. It’s the word on everyone’s lips at the moment – and we can thank the pandemic for that.

‘When are things going to get better?’

This is the question people up and down the country have been asking, well, since the first lockdown began back in March 2020. Now, several months later, people with previously no interest in any kind of data at all are turning to daily statistics and poring over complex graphs for the answer.

But using data to answer questions and make decisions is nothing new. Although it’s been thrust into the spotlight this year, businesses have been using data to gain a competitive edge for years, with much success.

For charities like CAP, however, it can be harder to find the money or skills needed to invest into this area. Potentially useful information quickly becomes a meaningless fog of numbers and spreadsheets. And while a typical for-profit organisation may find it easy to convert their customers to rows on a spreadsheet, for us in the third sector, every piece of data represents something much more valuable and complex: a living, breathing family in desperate need of help.

At CAP, data is critical to us being able to help people.

From knowing the amount of people accessing our service, to the detailed nuances of a client’s case that may change the advice we give to them, every piece of information makes an impact on how we do things here at CAP.

That’s why we were absolutely overjoyed to be introduced to DataKind UK last year. They have partnered with us to help us learn how we can use our data better, with the primary aim being that we‘re able to help our clients with maximum effectiveness.

What is DataKind?

DataKind is a charity that helps charities. Since being founded in the UK in 2013, they have worked with over 80 different organisations to help create sustainable change in their sector, by showing them how to build their skills and capacity, and handle their data responsibly. DataKind has been held up as an example of best practice by Government ministers, and they were named as one of Fast Company's 10 most innovative nonprofits in 2017.

DataKind also connects the charities they work with with an incredible community of data scientists who are willing to volunteer their time for free! This really is an incredible gift and means charities like CAP have a chance to access some of the very same expertise and insight that big-business organisations do.

Taking a ‘Data Dive’

We were thrilled to be accepted on a ‘Data Dive’ in November this year – a two-day DataKind event with around 30 top data scientists all working together to help find innovative ways for CAP to solve some of their biggest challenges.

We particularly focused on our debt service because we know that if we’re going to play our part in helping people get back on their feet after the pandemic, we need and want to be much more efficient so we can help more people through the local Church.

The ‘dive’ was a whirlwind weekend, exploring:

  • How to identify clients who might require a higher level of support when they first contact us
  • How to predict what advice a client might need from us - and how we can provide that advice quicker
  • How we can more effectively motivate and encourage clients to continue in their journey towards complete debt freedom

The volunteers from Datakind left me for dust pretty quickly! They were soon deep in discussions about different ways of approaching our data (anonymised information from around 20,000 CAP clients over the past five years). Our CAP staff team were vital in sharing much needed context and debt counselling expertise. By the end of the weekend we were exhausted, but it was really great to see how data science, when used effectively, can multiply the impact of the hard work carried out every day by our incredible caseworkers at head office.

It’s an exciting end to the year for us data analysts at CAP. We’ve still got a lot of questions, but I’m confident that whatever challenges we might face on behalf of our clients in the future, we can do it with the huge benefit that data and data science can bring.


Martin Cowles
Senior Project Manager – Research, Development and Innovation team

 

To find out more about DataKind, hop on over to their website.

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