EMERGENCY APPEAL. UK poverty is rising. We urgently need your help.
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The joy of meeting face to face

Four friends, taken from behind. They're stood on the edge of a hill, with hills and sunshine in front of them. The four have their arms around each other, enjoying the view together, as if they're enjoying the victory and adventure. Photography by Helena Lopes.
Helen Webb

External Affairs Relationship Manager

‘…have we lost something by travelling over? Have we missed the joys of journeying through?’ 

This quote is from the narrator’s script at the start of each episode of Race Across The World’. I really love this programme and the adventures that people find themselves in. Instead of getting on a plane to go directly from Vancouver to St John’s, Newfoundland, in the last series (series three), it took several weeks for the teams taking part to travel there on land, via some fascinating and far-flung places in Canada. The participants learned so much more about themselves, and Canada, and saw many more amazing things than they would have done by flying.

Supporting people locally

As a Relationship Manager who absolutely loves my role and the services that we provide here at Christians Against Poverty (CAP), my heart longs to communicate and build great relationships with people and to talk about CAP’s services and work, especially with creditors and national referral partners. This is so that, together, we can help those who need to escape poverty. 

Our clients are often on low incomes:

Those seeking debt help from CAP in 2022 had an average annual household income, after housing costs, of £13,909-£1,159 a month, which is £1,008 below the national average, and £141 below the poverty line.’

They often have a range of key support issues and vulnerability factors: 

60% of new clients in 2022 had a key support need, meaning they required additional support and awareness of the challenges they face’.

Our face-to-face home visiting Debt Help service offers support to clients both locally, through a local church-based centre, and through our teams of expert Debt Advisors at head office. Our face-to-face model means our Debt Coaches can spend time with clients, going through everything they need to do and supporting them in a more holistic way, whether that’s practical support or a listening ear.

Tackling social isolation

At CAP we want to see an end to UK poverty, and through our services, which are run in partnership with the local Church who journey alongside our clients and provide tremendous local support for them, we don’t just want to see clients survive, we want to see them thrive. Our clients get both the practical help they need and an invitation to become part of a local community which can help relieve isolation and loneliness, and see them move from desperation into fullness of life.

77% of clients said they had experienced some form of social isolation when they were in debt.’

At CAP, we see time and time again how valuable it is to be able to meet with someone in your local area, face-to-face, and share what you’re going through. Since the start of COVID-19, a lot of my work has been completed online, and I’ve really missed meeting with people in person. I did get to attend a couple of great conferences last year, and really revelled in the personal connection, because I’ve missed the joy I find in conversational journeys, bouncing ideas off one another and exploring all sorts of possibilities on the way.

Part of my role is to enable CAP to negotiate with our clients’ creditors (those they owe money to) directly, as well as looking at the best ways to help clients with their debt. In the past week I have travelled to Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool to meet with some great creditor organisations (this week I met with energy companies and catalogue companies, but other examples include banks, credit card companies and enforcement agencies) and their extra support teams, who do an excellent job supporting their customers. These teams of people are working hard to support their customers who face extra vulnerability factors.

I’ve had some really great conversations and meetings and given four hour-long presentations on Christians Against Poverty and our services. I’ve talked about how CAP can help those who are in debt and need a face-to-face, home visiting and supportive service. I’ve interacted with people who were really interested in what we do and we’ve built some great relationships. As part of these visits, in my one-to-one meetings, we’ve bounced ideas off one another and have gone on a conversational journey together, ultimately ending where we wanted to, but having explored all sorts of possibilities on the way.

I suddenly feel alive again and realise how much I have missed that communication in person, the buzz that can give, and seeing the benefits of a conversation where you really spark off each other and get some great ideas and solutions as a result. It shows that we all need connection, and for those in poverty, who often feel isolated and alone, that cup of tea or conversation can bring real joy and hope even in extremely difficult situations.

Taking the route less travelled

I have decided that I am going to keep seeing people face-to-face when I can; virtual meetings definitely have their place in my work life, and they allow me to quickly connect with people, but for me, there is nothing like a trip out to meet another person in an organisation, to build a deeper relationship, to converse and be creative together.

I won’t be buying any virtual plane tickets to travel in my work world, but rather I’ll be taking the route less travelled when I can, and going on an adventure in my conversations.

I hope to see you (in person or virtually!) at some point to enjoy the journey of our conversation. It would be great to talk about CAP and how we can work together to end UK poverty and to see more people thriving in their lives, and of course, to hear what’s going on in your world!

All quotes taken from CAP’s 2023 client report.

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.'