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Change lives, be changed: one CAP intern’s story

calendar29 March 2017

Lydia Gray's avatar Lydia Gray

Change lives, be changed: one CAP intern’s story

This time last year I was in Australia, starting off on a trip where I’d be exploring the world and soaking up new cultures and experiences. I took a year after graduating from university to go home and save up some money so I could go travelling. It was something I’d wanted to do for so long, but I also needed time to figure out what I wanted to do afterwards – which career I wanted to pursue.

My history degree taught me to construct a rational argument, and a fair amount about 20th Century Eastern Europe, but didn’t particularly narrow down my career options. When I graduated, the only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to work towards something good. I’m passionate about social justice and have a great desire to uplift the underprivileged, so I prayed that God would lead me to something which would help me do that; something which I could get behind and channel my passion and energy into – which he did!

I was told about CAP’s paid internship programme, Lead, by a good friend of mine from my church in Leeds, Emma, who had done it while I was in my third year of study. She had loved it, and was convinced that I would too. Although my home church has been a CAP Debt Centre for twelve years, I hadn’t fully grasped the amazing impact that CAP was having, even in my own community. So, while at home, I investigated it a bit more and volunteered as a befriender for Jo-anne, our Centre Manager. I saw real, tangible change happening in the lives of local people – practical solutions to poverty and the things trapping people in it. This, and the passion and drive of both Emma and Jo-anne, convinced me to apply for Lead!

I won’t lie, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I applied! I wasn’t sure if CAP’s head office would be full of slightly ‘unreal’ Christians or if interning would be just constant tea rounds. But instead (although there is definitely a lot of tea!) I found:

A community, not only amongst my fellow Lead interns – an awesome bunch of people in exactly the same position as me, with the same nerves and concerns – but also throughout the staff at head office. At the beginning of the year we were integrated into head office teams based on our skill sets and preferences, and I found myself in the very lovely IT department. They welcomed me in and soon made me feel valued, as did people from other departments too. In particular, I’ve met some awesome women who have showered me in compliments, encouraging words and wisdom!

An opportunity to grow (even in areas I didn’t think I needed to grow). Every Wednesday we have a day away from our teams, focusing on personal development in seminar-style sessions. I thought these sessions would be my least favourite part, I didn’t think there’d be too much to learn about myself – but I was definitely wrong! For instance, I’ve learnt that I have terrible boundaries (I’m still figuring out how to say ‘no’ properly, a habit I caught from my mum) and that not everyone likes hugs as often as I do!

A chance to strengthen my relationship with God. There’s something really special about spending every day around Christians. Although it’s important not to get stuck in a Christian ‘bubble’, it’s also been such an awesome opportunity to let my guard down and explore my faith. CAP is not a church, but it has provided time to connect with God and some challenges to my view of him.

The opportunity to do incredible work. No matter which team you find yourself in, you’re contributing to the lifting of debt and poverty from thousands of people. This year has offered me chance to get valuable experience in the charity sector, and work on my professional development alongside experts in their fields. Lead is a great insight into the inner-workings of an award-winning, international charity, and what exactly keeps it all going.

As I write this, I’m halfway through my Lead adventure and I can safely say I have already learnt a lot. Not only about the charity sector, or about CAP, but about myself (as cringey as that may sound!) I’ve made some incredible friends who I won’t be letting escape anytime soon, and developed more confidence in myself and the plans that God has in place for me. I’ve gained experience and skills that I’ll be able to take with me into whatever lies ahead!

So, if you find yourself passionate, driven and wondering where to adventure next, take a look at Lead!

To find out more about CAP's year-long paid internship programme, Lead, and to apply, click here.

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