This year I’ve been truly humbled by the favour God has given us to ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves… defend the rights of the poor and needy’ (Proverbs 31:8-9).
We build relationships with influential people who can make the changes that matter. We want to help them understand what life is like from our clients’ point of view, and in the last six months alone we’ve met with over 150 organisations! Many came to our Corporate Open Day in June and were so inspired that they are now looking at ways they can work with us. We’re just amazed at the doors God is opening for us to form partnerships with key people in the industry.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), for example, has been so impressed by our work that they’ve signed a national partnership agreement to recommend our services through their JobCentrePlus. Also, just a few months ago we had the largest enforcement agency in the UK visit us at CAP and they were so impacted by our work that they said they'd be willing to do everything in their power to help clients who are working with us.
One area I am particularly passionate about is the injustice around credit card charges for our clients. Although CAP often gets interest and charges stopped for new clients, in some cases credit card companies reapply them when the debt decreases. This moves the goal posts of how long the client has to repay, which feels so unjust to me. However, last month I received the support of a trade body to ask the major banks and credit companies to change their practice – wow!
Our voice is also heard in Parliament, as we regularly attend meetings at the House of Commons, respond to government consultation papers and have a representative at an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Debt and Personal Finance. It’s incredible to be able to raise issues on behalf of our clients in such a powerful place. And we’re not just known for what we say; we’re being recognised for how well we do things. We’ve been nominated for various awards, especially in the area of working with vulnerable clients, and the FCA even referenced CAP several times in their paper on vulnerability.
It’s been an exciting year so far, and we’re not finished yet. Our next major campaign is to tackle the injustice around fuel poverty. We’ve already spoken at National Energy Action’s conference and a major Utility and Telecoms conference, and in December we will be in Parliament discussing our The poor pay more report. This report highlights problems faced by lots of our clients who are struggling on prepayment meters.
So please do pray for us. The more noise we make, the louder our voice gets and the better placed we are to ask people to step into our clients’ shoes and understand that change needs to happen. Praise God for his favour on Christians Against Poverty!