‘To fill her stomach, she’d been eating tissues.’
It’s estimated that 75% of people have a fear of public speaking, yet, every few weeks, whether to large crowds or small, I stand up and I ask people to support our work.
As a charity, we rely on the generosity of tens of thousands of people - people who choose to support us - and each year we have to find more to join us. Each person has a reason they continue to support us, and I have a reason why I will unashamedly stand up and ask people to join us on the journey.
It started ten years ago, when I lived in Headingley in Leeds, not far from the famous cricket ground. I used to walk up the road to catch the bus to take me to the train station to get me to work. I would walk past the same houses day in and day out, never once wondering who lived in them or what their story was. Their lives were separate to my own.
Then, one cold January morning, I arrived at work and we gathered, as we often do, to hear stories of the people we’re helping. These can be stories of people becoming debt free, finding work or breaking free from life controlling habits. They can be stories about people making a commitment or joining their church community.
The opening words caught my attention: ‘This story comes from our West Leeds Debt Centre’. The West Leeds Debt Centre was run by a church I passed on my commute every single day. My house was in the catchment area for this debt centre. Immediately I knew that whatever was said next was about my community, my neighbour.
The next words spoken still impact me today. These opening lines have never left me:
‘When we first met K, she was eating from a box of tissues. Her benefits weren’t due to be paid for another week but she’d run out of food. To fill her stomach, she’d been eating tissues.’
This was my neighbour. Every time I passed those houses I wondered, does K live there? Was there someone in these houses unable to eat, sitting in the dark unable to afford electricity?
UK poverty is real with millions trapped in its miserable grip – words from our vision statement. For me the most powerful word is UK. It’s here, around our lives. People are living trapped in poverty.
Wherever there is poverty or injustice in the world it’s wrong, but to find it here, so close to my doorstep – could it be true? Are there really people living here in abject poverty? In the house next door or across the road?
At Christians Against Poverty we see this on a daily basis. People whose lives have hit rock bottom. 1 in 3 contemplating or attempting suicide. Marriages on the rocks. Kids going to school in worn out clothes.
In fact, over my time at CAP, I’ve heard of monthly food shops that consist of just two bottles of lemonade and a packet of biscuits. People cooking on a stove in their garden. People too fearful to leave the house for years! UK poverty is real – and millions are trapped in its miserable grip.
It’s for these people that I keep pushing to grow our work across the UK. It’s for them that I’ll seek more and more churches who want to impact their communities. And it’s for them that, whenever I can, however I can, I’ll ask people to join in and support CAP.
Would you join us and help more people break free from the grip of poverty? Become a Life Changer today.
Dan Lane is CAP's Director of Fundraising and Marketing. He grew up in Kent, moved to Yorkshire thirteen years ago, and has been doing his bit to beat UK poverty at CAP since 2007. He's passionate about the transformation that happens when people find freedom through CAP’s services and hopes you will be too!