Catching a glimpse of the frontlines: Engage 2016
Written by Sarah Haywood
I am over halfway through my Engage internship with Christians Against Poverty (CAP UK) at the moment. I have so far had two packed weeks in their head office in Bradford, witnessing first hand the business excellence and genuine compassion of the amazing people behind this charity. I have heard testimonies that have moved me to tears; I have been inspired in training as to how companies, charities and leaders can embrace values of rigorous humility to make an exponential impact on the world around them; and I have witnessed the frontlines of a charity tackling some of the most prevalent issues facing the vulnerable, poor and lonely in society.
Like many I know, I have a heart for social justice. A heart for a world where parents, money or circumstance can’t put you in a position of exploitation, desperation or isolation. CAP appears to have this heart too. Through a growing network of local churches, CAP runs courses on managing finances, getting out of debt, overcoming addictions, finding employment and skills, and learning life lessons and decision making skills many of us take for granted. Basically, they see the struggles of the vulnerable and do something about it (within their capacity and expertise). They create genuine community, at a local level, on a nationwide scale. They enable those with a passion, with the resources and training to impact their local communities. This is not a short-term 'let’s sort you out and send you on your way', but a 'let’s befriend you, help you, serve you and continue with you on your journey'. They offer the very best to those with the very least, and it stirs my heart to see their conviction behind the cause.
I was told upon starting my internship that the experience of the CAP head office would ruin me for all other workplaces – I was willing to be ruined! A space in which the CEO gives hugs to a team who have just achieved a deal with some creditors which will bless the charity; an office where the founder walks by and passionately praises a team for all the work they’ve done this year so far, and how many people they have helped find employment; an office where the entire staff body meets three times a week to either worship together, pray for those volunteers and staff in local churches or pray for their department’s work. What I have experienced in just two weeks will not leave my memory anytime soon. This is a cause and a people I am committed to continue supporting for a very long time.
What strikes me most perhaps though is not their incredible work with local churches but their reputation and relationship with some of the most notoriously ruthless industries (such as creditors, banks and energy companies). To gain respect from these because of their integrity and quality of service, to treat these industries not as enemies but as allies, and to deliver greater resources and support than any other face-to-face debt advice services in the country. This level of excellence surpasses professionalism, but is instead unashamed compassion and commitment to a cause that the world needs to wake up and do something about those who 'slip through the net' or are 'disadvantaged from birth' or are 'beyond hope'.
Nothing can stop those who selflessly seek to use what they have to help those who don’t have, when they humbly and rigorously pursue superbness in whatever they are able to offer and enable others around them to do the same.
There's more from Sarah via her blog, claritypending.wordpress.com. To find out more about the Engage internship programme, head to capuk.org/get-involved/you/engage-placement.