This year, through our Created for Community campaign, we’re celebrating the way God uses CAP to rescue people from isolation. I’m pleased to say the first half of the year hasn't disappointed. Let’s take a look at some highlights and the impact CAP has had so far in 2018.
Back in May, we had a visit from TV’s Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis, whose public endorsements of CAP always lead to an increase in calls to our helpline. It was a pleasure to show him around CAP HQ and say thank you in person. ‘Every time I mention Christians Against Poverty, I get people who tell me how it’s changed their lives,’ he said.
In March, we launched our annual client report at the House of Lords. The event was attended by MPs, members of the credit industry and national journalists, who gathered to hear the impact CAP is having across the UK. CAP’s Patron, Archbishop Justin Welby, spoke at the event, as well as some very brave clients who shared their stories with everyone there.
It’s also been an incredible year for our Founder, John Kirkby, who last week was included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and will receive a CBE later in the year. John was awarded the Langton Cross for Community Service back in January too. 'When it comes to inspiring others, sharing his story and championing the poor, John is always ready to go again,' said Archbishop Welby, who presented the award.
CAP Debt Help in numbers
When a new client calls our helpline, it’s the first step in their journey; the moment they’re reminded that they’re not alone and there’s always hope. The year got off to a great start, as January was our biggest month in history for booking in new debt clients. Overall 4,474 bookings have been made since the beginning of the year.
Meanwhile, our local centre teams have visited over 3,883 new homes. When our frontline workers step through a new client's door, they no longer have to carry the burden of debt by themselves. They’re offered not only a practical way forward, but friendship too.
Our face-to-face service means frontline workers are often in a position to invite clients to church, where they can come to find a welcoming community and discover more about Jesus. This year, 326 people have chosen to make a faith commitment because of their involvement with CAP.
Depending on a client’s circumstances, the journey out of debt can take up to five years. That’s where our long term casework teams step in, always on the end of the phone to offer a vital source of support and advice. So far this year, they’ve answered over 20,000 calls.
1,151 families have completed their journey and become debt free – an increase of over 10% compared to the first half of last year. That’s 1,151 families that can now shift their focus to other things, like rebuilding relationships broken by debt, and their own health and wellbeing.
Group services in numbers
38% of CAP Job Clubs members find work – higher than any other initiative of its kind – and so far this year 1,670 members have attended a job club. 731 have taken part in a CAP Life Skills group. Community is an integral part of our group services, where members meet others in similar situations and can support one another.
In May, we launched Fresh Start for people struggling with dependencies, and we’re excited to see the fruit this will bear in the coming months – watch this space!
As Galatians 6:9 tells us, we must ‘not become weary in doing good’. There are more people out there who desperately need our help, and areas that still aren’t covered by a CAP centre. We need more churches to take a stand against poverty in their communities by opening a CAP centre, we need more people to spread the word, we need more people to say ‘yes’ to supporting CAP and ‘yes’ to speaking up for the poor, vulnerable and lost across this nation.
That said, I for one am very, very excited to see what the second half of 2018 has to offer.
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Matt Barlow joined CAP at the beginning of 1999 and, having spent seven years building the systems and infrastructure to support CAP’s growth, was appointed UK Chief Executive in 2006. In 2018 he also took over as International Chief Executive. He lives with his wife, Josie, and their two children.