What if you had to spend the day doing nothing? An attractive prospect if you’re a busy person, perhaps. But what if this wasn’t your choice? No work, no friends round, no television, music, books, social media, post or phone calls. No leaving the house. Curtains stay closed. No food or drink, apart from a glass of water and a slice of bread and a little jam. That’s what Colchester Debt Centre Manager, Paula Goddard, did to raise money for our work here at Christians Against Poverty.
Working for CAP, Paula knows that many of her clients have had to live with this situation every day. Eight out of ten debt clients say they feel lonely or isolated before getting help. One in five say they don’t leave their house for a week or more. The loneliness makes their outlook feel even worse. Paula found herself feeling anxious just a few hours into her 'Do Nothing Day'.
'The first two hours are spent fighting the urge to go back to sleep and with thoughts jumping around my head. Conversations I’ve had and need to have, what was said and what needs to be said.'
With no distractions of TV, internet or phone due to energy worries or disconnection, isolation creeps in. Food and, even water, is rationed.
'Our clients will limit water usage to keep the bill lower. By 10am, I needed my glass of water. The room was dark and my thoughts were still battling for space in my head. I was cold so pulled the duvet round me, by 11.30am I was so hungry I gave in and had my slice of bread. I took the bread back up to my room and sat eating slowly to try and make it last. Oh my! It tasted so good! It really was the only highlight of the day.'
However, this highlight was short-lived.
'By 1pm I was lethargic again and cold, I laid down with the duvet wrapped around me and my thoughts started running again and that was the longest three hours of the day because I knew I had an end to what I can only describe as mental hell, especially as it started getting darker.'
Paula’s was an experiment, a fundraiser she chose to do for charity for the day and she reflected that for people living with poverty, it must seem relentless.
'For the people out there needing our help, there is no easy end to the mental turmoil. There is no dinner waiting later with the family. There is no switching off in front of the TV with a cup of tea.'
Poverty doesn’t just affect someone's trip to the supermarket or the stuff they can or can't have. The isolation debt brings can deeply affect someone on an emotional and psychological level.
If you help CAP in any way, through giving of your time, efforts, money and especially through prayers, thank you so much. It's because of you that we're able to bring hope to people feeling so alone.