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Five reasons to sort out your will now

calendar16 May 2017

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Five reasons to sort out your will now

Making a will? Leaving a legacy? Isn't that kind of morbid? You're not likely to be alone in asking that question, but honestly, thinking about these things has its perks – not to mention it’s really important. Not only can we find peace of mind in knowing our affairs are in order way ahead of schedule, but we can be sure that our loved ones and the things we care about are secure after we’re gone. You might think there isn't any point in it, especially if you don't have children or any assets of great worth, but it’s so worthwhile – here are our top five reasons why.

  1. Without a will, your estate won't necessarily go to your partner. Everything you own is classed as an asset, from a house to a rug to the family pet, and these make up your ‘estate’. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee your estate will automatically go to your partner, even if you’re married or in a civil partnership, if they aren’t specifically named on your will. Without a will, you run the risk of your estate being shared out in any which way, or indeed going to the government. According to the Money Advice Service, the total value that went to the government last year from people not leaving a will was £8 million!
  2. Unless your will designates guardians of your children, the court may decide who takes care of them. Not only could your estate hang in the balance if you don’t leave a will, but custody of your kids too. That's a pretty horrible thought, isn't it? What’s more, the amount of your estate that your children are entitled to will vary depending on where you live in the UK, meaning they could feasibly end up with little or nothing. Making these important decisions today may seem difficult, but it could remove unnecessary stress for your family after you’re gone.
  3. A will is not just about who gets what, it says who gets to make these important financial decisions too. You wouldn’t want a stranger taking the contents of your bag and sharing them out as they please, so why let this happen to your estate? In your will you’ll be able to name your ‘executor’, which is actually a good thing despite it sounding a bit intimidating! Your executor (which can be one or more people) will be responsible for ensuring your will is stuck to, so you can rest in the knowledge that your affairs will be left in trusted hands.
  4. You can reduce your Inheritance Tax Bill by leaving a charitable legacy in your will. Yes, on top of everything else, leaving a will could actually save you and your loved ones money. If you leave 10% or more of your estate to charity, the government will reduce the rate of inheritance tax on your estate by 10%. Currently, if the value of your estate is worth more than £325,000, you will be taxed 40% on anything above that level. However, the government will reduce the tax rate to 36% for anyone pledging to give 10% or more of their estate's value to charity.
  5. It’s easy to review your will if and when your circumstances change. Some people worry that making a will means these decisions are set in stone, which is understandable in a society that's constantly chopping and changing. However, you can (and should) review your will from time to time to ensure your wishes are still current and there’s no cause for dispute when the time comes.

CAP helps more than 20,000 people across its services every year, with 91% saying it was 'life transforming' or 'a great help'. Would you consider leaving us a legacy in your will? Click here to find out more.

A well deserved break

calendar27 April 2017

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

A well deserved break

Discovery Breaks are always a highlight of the CAP calendar, and last week saw the annual Northern Ireland break rocking and rolling in Castlewellan. A beautiful castle overlooking the Mourne Mountains, Castlewellan has for several years offered the perfect setting for a stunning few days.

Discovery Breaks offer our clients a chance to step back from their everyday lives, which are often especially stressful. They’re an opportunity for them to spend quality time with their families and reconnect, as well as overcome severe isolation, meeting other clients in similar situations and building new friendships.

For many of these families, it’s the first break they’ve had in years, if ever.

That’s one of the reasons it’s such a privilege to be able to offer that escape. Over the course of the break, the clients are treated to fun activities, pampering sessions, great food and a chance to learn more about the Christian faith, the foundations behind why we do what we do at CAP.

The Castlewellan break is run solely by CAP Northern Ireland frontline workers. This time it was headed up by Alison Flanagan (Northern Ireland Area Manager), alongside David Kelly (Causeway Coast Centre Manager) and Jacqui Robb (Carrickfergus Centre Manager). When the break kicked off on 18 April, 73 guests arrived – an amazing turn out!

For David, this break was particularly special, coming just before he steps down from his role as a CAP Centre Manager. David’s role on the break was all about praying and connecting with clients, preparing and delivering talks, and inspiring the staff team. ‘It left me exhausted and buzzing inside!’ he says. ‘The best thing was seeing people’s faces physically change from when they arrived to when they left; they just looked brighter, less like the weight of the world was on their shoulders. Obviously their situations at home may still be complex and stressful, but it’s brilliant to think they were leaving with a renewed attitude and perspective. It’s amazing what a difference a few days can make!’

Most importantly, our clients always seem to have a great time. Terry’s life was just one transformed by the Castlewellan break. ‘The CAP Debt Centre told me about a weekend away they do,’ he explains. ‘I went and it was brilliant. We went for walks around Castlewellan, which was beautiful. It was good to meet others in the same situation, to know you're not alone.’

Read more about our Discovery Breaks and how you can give a family fighting to get out of debt the chance to relax, rebuild relationships and be transformed!

How can I help a friend or family member who has an addiction?

calendar20 April 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

How can I help a friend or family member who has an addiction?

This weekend marks the 27th Worldwide Weekend of Prayer for the Addicted, when Christians around the world come together in prayer and action on behalf of people trapped in life-controlling dependencies. It’s not hard to see how addiction of any kind has the power to destroy people’s lives and the lives of those around them, whether it’s smoking, drinking, substance abuse, gambling, eating, shopping or something else. It can affect anything from your physical health to your work life, your social life to your bank balance.

If you find that a friend or a family member is battling an addiction, it’s likely they have a long fight ahead of them and having the support of loved ones will be paramount. You may be feeling pretty helpless, and indeed it may be down to medical professionals and trained support workers to help them quit for good, but what can you do in the meantime?

1. The best step to take early on is to avoid being scared to talk about the addiction. Often an elephant in the room left to its own devices will grow and grow, ultimately taking over. You should be honest about your feelings and talk to the person about the effect their addiction is having. Perhaps if they see how the addiction is affecting those around them, they’ll have a strong motivator to change. At the very least they’ll feel less alone and isolated once they know you’re on their side. These kinds of conversations are never going to be easy, but just be honest and empathetic with them and keep pressing on.

2. Spending time with the person suffering, even if you’re not talking about their problems in particular, is worthwhile. Sadly a lot of people develop these habits as a way of dealing with their emotions and to ‘numb’ difficult feelings such as loneliness, so try to keep them company and socialise with them as often as you can. Encourage them to stay away from situations, places or people that might entice them back to the habit. Rather, give them other ways to keep busy – depending on what exactly they're struggling with, you could try going to the gym and using up some energy through exercise, or take up a hobby like clay pigeon shooting or kick boxing as a way of channeling stress. Again, this might take a lot of time and energy on your part, but persevere. Don’t give up!

3. You can also help by researching what information and support is available. There are lots of resources online that will help you to better understand the situation, how to tackle it and how to be supportive, as well as stories from people who are going through similar problems. The NHS website is a good place to start as it offers advice and information on all sorts of addictions.

For advice on drug addictions, from alcohol and tobacco to drugs that aren’t legal in the UK but are still frighteningly common:

For unhealthy gambling habits:

For alcohol addiction and abuse:

For smoking:

For unhealthy eating habits, including addictions to food, anorexia and bulimia:

4. Remember, it’s unlikely you can solve the problem completely on your own. Don’t be disheartened if your efforts seem to be in vain at first. Studies show that people are ultimately more likely to listen to advice from professionals than friends or family. While it’s important to support them and keep them occupied, the best thing you can do is point them in the direction of those trained to understand why these issues have occurred and how to deal with them.

5. Unfortunately, there is often a stigma around the idea of seeking professional help and you might need to keep in mind that only the person struggling with the addiction can make that decision. Of course, people are more likely to change if they actually want to change, so it might be a case of gradually talking to them about the issue, showing them the benefits of quitting and helping them to make their own choice. Be prepared with the research you’ve done on sources of support, should they ask.

6. Pray! As Christians, our best weapon in the fight against addiction is God's powerful love. During the Worldwide Weekend of Prayer for the Addicted, people will be dedicating time to praying for sufferers everywhere to be released, so whether it's something close to home or not it's so worthwhile getting involved.

7. Finally, you could refer your loved one to a CAP Release Group. Run through local churches, the groups are designed to help people struggling with unhealthy habits, such as smoking, gambling or shopping, through a combination of emotional and practical support in a friendly environment. Richard, who took part in his local release group last year, said, ‘I’d been smoking for about 24 years. The CAP Release Group taught me about changing my habits. In the morning I would usually have a coffee which I associated with cigarettes; now instead I have tea which I associate with biscuits! Since I quit smoking, my health is better, my budgeting is better and the money I’m saving is going towards getting my own place.’

If you think you or someone you know would benefit from the course, visit to find your nearest. Would you like to set up your own CAP Release Group and help transform lives in your community? Give us a call on 01274 760595 or email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to find out more.

Top tips for making your kids’ Easter fun more spiritual

calendar13 April 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Top tips for making your kids’ Easter fun more spiritual

Last weekend on Palm Sunday, Christians everywhere remembered when Jesus was applauded as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and now Easter weekend is on the way – the time we turn our minds to the story of Jesus’ betrayal, trial, death and resurrection.

It can be challenging for parents to teach their children about the Easter story because, as much as there’s the joy of Jesus’ resurrection, there’s inevitably the sadness and pain of his death. It can be tempting to focus on the resurrection and ‘new life’ side of Easter – the lambs, the chicks, the springtime flowers and, of course, the stacks and stacks of Easter eggs.

With the Easter holidays underway, there are lots of simple ways to add a little spiritual significance to your kids’ fun time.

  • Here’s one simple way to get your little ones thinking about the Easter story – incorporate it into their Easter egg hunts! My parents used to do this and I loved it. We’d use those plastic eggs that you can open and reuse, each containing little objects that told a different part of the story. For example, you could use a leaf to represent Palm Sunday, a chunk of bread for the last supper, coins for Judas’ betrayal, nails for the crucifixion, a stone and a piece of fabric for Jesus’ burial and a final empty egg for Jesus’ resurrection. Chat to them about each item as they find them, or they could try to put them in the right chronological order at the end.
  • If you have kids who are a little older or want to add an extra challenge, your Easter egg hunt could use clues leading to the hiding places, each referring in some way to the Easter story. For example, if you’ve got a thorny bush in your garden, you might say ‘I was made into a crown and placed on Jesus’ head before the crucifixion – what am I?’ Your clues don’t need to be anything elaborate – it’s just a case of getting them thinking about more than just the prizes!
  • Another activity involves creating your own miniature Easter garden. You could make flowers from tissue paper or fill a baking tray with sand, adding pebbles and small flowers. Have a look at these examples to give you an idea. Talk to the kids about the story as you build – they could even use little Lego people to act it out in the garden.
  • Your local church will probably be running tons of events over Easter for people of all ages. From workshops with lots of fun craft activities, to Agape meals, to a gentle Easter walk and teachings about the Stations of the Cross, there’s lots to do as a family while learning about Jesus. Whether you’re a regular member of the church or not, I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to welcome you and your family. Easter is an ideal time to give it a go and see what you think.
  • Finally, why not show your kids how to put the spiritual meaning back into Easter by doing something charitable for someone else? Head to the shops together, buy an extra Easter egg or two and donate them to people who might not have one otherwise. A quick search online should bring up plenty of charities looking for donations. After all, the main message of the Easter story is that Jesus gave his life for all of us – the most selfless act of all time!

From me and all of us at CAP, I pray you and your family have a really great Easter.

‘Cheep cheep’ ideas to try with the kids over the Easter holidays

calendar11 April 2017

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

‘Cheep cheep’ ideas to try with the kids over the Easter holidays

Every year around Easter time, parents’ minds inevitably turn to days full of restless, chocolate-fuelled children. For some, keeping the kids entertained over the break may come as a concern, especially if money is tight. Here are our suggestions for an Easter break that will keep the kids happy and the parents’ pockets happy too.

  1. Easter egg hunts - always a good way to get the kids out and about and kept entertained! See if there are any going on in your community. If so, what better way to get together with your neighbours, meet new people and explore your local area too?
  2. If you’re not able to make it to these events, why not set up your own hunt for the youngsters? Grab some small chocolate eggs (usually available in pound shops) and hide them around the house or garden. Simply set the kids off to search, sit down and put your feet up with a cuppa. Or, if you fancy making things a bit more challenging, create a ‘treasure map’ or a series of cryptic clues leading to the goodies – be creative! For tips on how to combine an Easter egg hunt with teaching the kids about Jesus, plus other ways to add more spiritual significance to their fun, see Joseph's blog here.
  3. If there’s a river or stream near your house, how about taking the kids down to play some games? Collect lots of twigs and leaves, build some boats and have a race down the water. Or go for a classic game of Pooh Sticks. Fun, free and outdoors – perfect! (Just be careful - obv!)
  4. Here’s an Easter classic: hard boil some eggs for the kids to paint as their favourite characters and celebrities. Grab some orange paint and you’ve got your very own Egg Sheeran! Why not stage the Oscars starring Eggs-Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom-lette Hiddleston? Or set the kids off on an adventure with Dora the Eggs-plorer? Okay, okay, enough of the puns, I'm just getting… eggs-cited… But this really is a cheap and cheerful way to keep the little ones occupied for an afternoon.
  5. What treasures does your hometown have to offer that you’ve never got round to visiting? Often you don’t need to travel for miles to find an interesting day out. Use Money Saving Expert's handy tool here to look up your region and see what free museums and exhibitions are on offer nearby.
  6. Get active, fill some time and support your local leisure centre. Cuts to council funding are sadly having an impact on leisure centres across the country, with many on the verge of closure. Why not make the most of the facilities on your doorstep this Easter? Go for a swim, play some badminton, or see what special events are on. This is stuff you can do alone, in a group or with the family, and it’s usually cheap as chips most importantly!

If low income is negatively impacting your life, sign up to your local CAP Life Skills: a friendly group where you’ll gain practical skills and discover new ways to live for a brighter future. Find out more at

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