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Churches are being pushed to their limits: Ruth’s story

Ruth holding a sign that reads 'There is so much need. I'm at my limit.'
Maisie Pollard

Read Ruth’s story to find out about what CAP Debt Centre Managers do and see how you can get involved in the fight against UK poverty. 

Have you ever wondered how CAP’s frontline staff bring hope to local communities? In this blog, you’ll meet Ruth, Co-Debt Centre Manager at Grace Church Brockley. Ruth’s story highlights how UK poverty has surged, and how churches are at breaking point. 

Why not sit down, grab a cup of tea or coffee, and read about Ruth’s first-hand experience as a CAP Debt Centre Manager?

How I first got involved with CAP

I volunteered first as a befriender in a debt centre in Peckham. Myself and Mel, my Co-Debt Centre Manager, opened Lewisham Debt Centre over three years ago. Another church came to us that runs the CAP job club; they were thinking of starting a debt centre but they didn’t have anybody who could run it. I was keen to get involved, but I didn’t want to do it on my own, so I got in touch with Mel.’

Partnering with local churches

We now run the debt centre through Grace Church Brockley: It’s funded through them, but we partner with other churches in Lewisham. There’s one church that runs the job clubs and another church that runs the money coaching workshops. We have befrienders and people who pray with us and support us from other churches. We’ve got a lot of support within Lewisham.’

Going above and beyond for clients like Jim

For our client Jim, we didn’t realise how bad his situation was. He was in emergency accommodation, and when we took a large van to move him into new accommodation, he only had two tiny bags of clothes. When we arrived at his new flat, there was nothing in it. He had no cooker, no microwave, no washing machine, no fridge, nothing. He didn’t even have a cup to get water out of the tap. We’re finding more and more clients who we’re having to go above and beyond for. The debt help is one part of what we do, but the job is so much more than this.’

For many of our clients, we run around the church and get any supplies that we can. This is the reality. In these situations, the church is having to step up. 

A church community group setting around a table in a cafe
Pictured above: Jim, a CAP client sat with Ruth, Co-Debt Centre Manager.

Mental health problems are so common

The majority of our clients have mental health problems. It can be a vicious cycle; sometimes it’s the debt causing the mental health issues, and other times it can be mental health issues causing the debt problem. It can be one way or the other, but they’re all struggling. When visiting clients, I sometimes walk in and think, Gosh, no wonder people are suffering from mental health illnesses” as they’re stuck in such poor living conditions.’

Bringing hope to the local community

As well as the debt help we offer, we run a support group and meet with clients in a café. It’s a community where people can talk about their mental health, what’s going well, and what they need help with. It’s been a great way to meet with clients and get them involved with their local church. They can connect with people on a wider level, see people in similar situations, and support each other.’

CAP client Jim and Co-Debt Centre Manager, Ruth, talking in a community group
Pictured above: Ruth and Jim sat with people in their local community

Churches like ours are being pushed to the limit

We’ve been fully booked up for three months in advance since the day our debt centre opened. It feels like there’s a massive need and fewer resources to meet that need. Even the local food bank hasn’t got enough money or resources. I feel like we’re giving our best. We can only offer what we can, and give people a welcoming church community to be part of alongside the debt help.’

I can’t bear to turn anyone else away. With your help, I won’t have to. 

Here’s where you come in

We’re so thankful for people like Ruth who support those facing financial crisis. With every story of hope, we’re reminded of the 14.4 million others in poverty who need help. 

If Ruth’s story has inspired you, we want to encourage you to get involved. You can be a lifeline for those in poverty by donating. As echoed in Ruth’s words, there are simply not enough resources to help everyone. Did you know that in 2023, 4,031 people couldn’t access CAP’s help as appointments were fully booked or there was no centre nearby? You can change that today with your financial gift, and help more people access our services.

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Ruth holding a sign that reads 'There is so much need. I'm at my limit.'
Ruth, Co-Debt Centre Manager

We urgently need your support to reach every person in poverty.

Ruth holding a sign that reads 'There is so much need. I'm at my limit.'