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Help from unexpected places

calendar16 January 2018

Kiri Saunders's avatar Kiri Saunders

Help from unexpected places

Working together to change the finance industry

For many people receiving help from us, when it comes to some of the wider issues that affect their situation, their voice is not heard. The job of CAP’s External Affairs team is to speak up for the UK’s poorest, in government, to the credit industry, utilities companies and the enforcement sector, in order to influence change.

Since the External Affairs team has been in existence, CAP has built relationships with external organisations in order to speak on behalf of the people we help. Of note, the relationship between the enforcement industry and CAP has grown from strength to strength and has created many positive outcomes as a result. Despite the industry having many negative connotations, we recognise that enforcement agencies do not want to push people into further financial hardship. In fact, these agencies, like us, are in a privileged position to identify vulnerability because they too are entering people’s homes. 

There can be a powerful positive impact when organisations, such as enforcement agencies, work together with debt advisers, helping to secure the right outcome. When partnership is done well it catches those who may have fallen through the net, acting as the last opportunity to offer the help and support vulnerable people need.

One example of a working relationship is that which we’ve developed with enforcement agency Phoenix over recent years. It has helped ensure that their agents are trained to recognise and help those in poverty. One of Phoenix’s team, Jamie Upchurch, said:

‘The majority of those who can’t pay their debt genuinely want to and our relationships with organisations like CAP help facilitate vital assistance and solutions for those who are vulnerable. I recently visited a single mother, who had no assets inside her property and was struggling to feed her children. I managed to facilitate a three-way call with CAP who set an appointment for a centre manager to visit her property. I placed the case on hold until CAP contacted my office with an affordable offer of payment, which was accepted. The lady has never defaulted on her arrangement with us.’

We’ve also been able to set up a password process between enforcement agencies and CAP caseworkers. This password allows the enforcement agent to know that their customer is working with CAP and they will halt collection until CAP are able to create a repayment plan.

Another example of partnerships working well is CAP client Mark, who featured in last year’s Client report. Mark was visited by his mortgage provider’s field team, who found him in extreme poverty and his home in severe disrepair. The field team referred him to CAP, and with our help Mark was able to rebuild his life and resolve his debt situation. To read more about Mark’s story, take a look at our Client report.

We’re always looking at ways to build and develop partnerships, including with the enforcement sector, helping to provide clients with forbearance and space to sort out a situation. Throughout the industry there are many examples of partnerships creating good practice and better outcomes for clients, but there is always room for improvement. CAP has contributed to the Taking control report, which highlights the fundamental issues and rogue practices that still take place in the industry today, calling for more regulation in the sector. We’ve been able to provide a unique voice in discussions, speaking on behalf of our clients in order to get the best outcomes for the people we help.

Frying pans at the ready - it’s the Flipping Marvellous Pancake Party!

calendar11 January 2018

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Frying pans at the ready - it’s the Flipping Marvellous Pancake Party!

Well, isn’t this exciting? This year we want you to join us to put the ‘fun’ in ‘fundraising’ by hosting a Flipping Marvellous Pancake Party!

On Shrove Tuesday (that’s 13 February 2018) churches, home groups, families, friends and co-workers across the UK will be getting together to enjoy plates full of pancakes, tip top toppings and an all-round great time, all with the aim of raising money for CAP. Every pancake flipped and pound raised will help to free people from the crushing weight of poverty – that's what it's all about.

Fancy getting in the mix? Of course you do! Well, here’s the good news – hosting a pancake party is easy peasy lemon squeezy. First, sign up here to order your free, fun-filled resource pack, which includes everything you need to plan and pull off the perfect pancake party. There are posters and invitations to promote your event, stickers and photo props for you and your guests to enjoy, material to help you get those funds stacking up, a handy guidebook full of fun ideas and tips, plus more!

We recommend making the most of Shrove Tuesday, but feel free to choose a different day if it works better for you. You can also host your event wherever you think is best, whether that’s your church hall, at home, in your office… as long as there’s a kitchen, you’ll be cooking on gas.

We’re so excited to see how your event ‘pans’ out, so don’t forget to spread the word and share your pics on Facebook and Twitter. Just include #pancakeparty18 to join in the fun.

So grab your whisk, stock up on flour, eggs and milk, and together let’s go flat out to end UK poverty!

A special Christmas message to all our supporters

calendar21 December 2017

John Kirkby's avatar John Kirkby

A special Christmas message to all our supporters

Hey, CAP supporters - I have a very special Christmas message I'd like to share with you!

Inspired by one of my favourite Christmas films, I decided to head out onto your doorsteps with a big smile and a message filled with love.

Well, after a run-in with a large dog and setting off one too many security alarms, I gave up on that idea – but, thankfully, we did manage to capture one encounter on camera. So hit play to find out exactly what you’ve made happen in thousands of lives this year.


As you celebrate Jesus’ birth, all of us at CAP wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Thank you once again for all your support!

John’s highlights of 2017

calendar20 December 2017

John Kirkby's avatar John Kirkby

John’s highlights of 2017

Hey, where has this year gone? It seems like yesterday we were waving goodbye to 2016 and looking ahead to all the amazing things 2017 had in store for us. I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint! The last twelve months have been jam-packed and I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at some of the great things that have gone on.

2017 got off to a great start when CAP was featured on BBC’s Songs of Praise in January. The episode, called ‘Escaping Debt’, featured Naomi and Perry, a couple from Kent whose lives had been turned around after taking control of their debts with CAP’s help. It’s always brilliant when CAP gets publicity like this – not because of fame or anything like that, but because it’s getting the word out to thousands of people who may not have heard about what we do before. It could be the difference between them continuing to struggle or getting the help they really need.

For clients like Naomi and Perry, who went through a Debt Relief Order, becoming debt free only took a few months, so it’s amazing to think that somebody who first heard about us on Songs of Praise in January could now be free from debt, or at the very least working towards it.

In February we were thrilled to sign a referral partnership with the UK’s largest provider of foodbanks, The Trussell Trust. We're always up for working together, especially if it means people who are struggling can find a faster and smoother route to sorting out the causes of their poverty. Now many foodbanks around the country regularly signpost hungry people to our helps for debt, unemployment, addiction or life skills courses. Brilliant!

CAP joined six other charities to call for reform in enforcement agent (bailiff) practice in March. It was part of a campaign called ‘Taking Control’. Dan Kelly from our External Affairs team went along to BBC Breakfast to talk about this on national telly. We’ll continue to see the impact of this campaign into 2018 so watch this space!

April was another landmark month for CAP as we officially launched our newest service, CAP Life Skills. After piloting the initiative over 2016, we knew we’d hit on something good, and I’ve loved watching it blossom since the launch. We’ve now got 93 life skills centres across the UK teaching people new ways to manage on a low income and prevent the poverty associated with it. You can find out more about CAP Life Skills and search for centres in your area here.

Our first ‘crowdfunding for a Discovery Break’ campaign was a big success. I was blown away (yet again) by the generosity of CAP’s supporters. What a heart you have for our clients and to bless them with a break from their daily struggles. The break took place at Pilgrim Hall in East Sussex at the end of May and because of this generosity we were able to take over 100 families away for a well deserved rest.

June was full to bursting! Andrew Bailey, CEO of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) visited CAP HQ and we received authorisation from the body. This really is testament to all of the staff involved in the lengthy process, and it means we can take a leap forward in helping UK families find a solution to their debt and truly transform their lives.

June was also the month we launched our annual client report, which revealed a really concerning stat: one in ten clients didn’t have a bed to sleep on before getting help with their debt. This was the inspiration behind our summer campaign, which featured the incredible testimony of client Chris, who once spent months sleeping on bin bags, along with his two young children, because of debt. The campaign raised a fantastic amount of funds so that we can help to make sure no one is left with this level of need.

In my hometown of Bradford, a brand new centre opened in July at Gateway Christian Centre. Not only that, it was almost immediately fully booked for months in advance. The reason I started CAP back in 1996 was because of the deprivation I saw in and around Bradford, so it’s fantastic to know that a whole load more people in the area (and across the country) will now be getting the help and support they need as they set off on their journey to becoming debt free.

August was the month that saw 100 clients become debt free in the space of a week for the first time ever! I remember a time when we’d be delighted if we reached 100 debt frees in a year, and now we’re seeing so many lives transformed on a weekly basis – it’s just stunning.

September was the month that saw the 1,000th client make a decision for Jesus in 2017! It put the total number of lives transformed through Jesus since the charity began at a staggering 7,000. Wow!

In October we launched our ‘life sentence’ appeal, which aimed to raise the fees for 500 clients to go through a Debt Relief Order (DRO) and become debt free before Christmas. These were clients whose debt was so high it would take them over 600 years to repay it on average. I’m thrilled to say we smashed our target thanks yet again to the generosity of our supporters.

Another highlight for October came from our Public Relations team, who managed to get CAP featured on national telly eight times – more than ever before in the space of a month! Again, more publicity equals more people hearing about CAP and getting the help they need. That’s what it’s all about.

Hey, the highlights didn’t stop there. In November we hosted our biggest fundraising dinner of the year (and ever) at Old Billingsgate in London. It was a fantastic evening, with over 1,000 CAP supporters gathering together to celebrate and sow into the future of this charity. On the night we raised a staggering £1,000,000! This money will go towards opening more UK centres and making sure every person who needs our help can access it, as well as continuing to give the very best service to our clients.

Finally, thanks to our Christmas hamper appeal, our local centres were able to deliver hampers to hundreds of clients in December. After a year of working hard to get out of debt and poverty, these hampers bring such joy and hope to people at Christmas.

Hey, fancy one more hurrah to round off a pretty stunning year? Go on then. This year we’ve seen a record breaking number of families become debt free – more than any year before! To anyone who has helped make this and the rest of this amazing year possible, I have a very special thank you message here. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And here’s to an even better 2018, yeah?

Christmas is saved!

calendar18 December 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Christmas is saved!

Christmas is a notoriously tough time for our bank balances and I don’t know about you but it seems to be getting more expensive year on year. A recent study showed that food for even the cheapest traditional Christmas dinner will be 16% more expensive than in 2016. And that’s before you factor in the cost of presents, decorations and energy to illuminate all those lights.

It can be a stressful time for anyone, especially those in the middle of working flat out to get out of debt.

That why when CAP helps a client organise a Debt Management Plan to repay what they owe to various creditors, as well as budget for their various day-to-day needs, we encourage them to put aside an amount of money every month to save for Christmas and other future needs. For people not used to saving, such as those involved in generational debt, this opens them up to a new way of doing things and helps them to stay debt free long after they’ve finished working with CAP.

Plus, of course, it means that when December comes around, we’re able to send them a super uplifting letter saying how much they’ve saved up. It’s something our clients really value, saying it not only gives them something to look forward to but takes away a lot of the pressure of the festive season too.

Last year, 1,183 CAP clients withdrew money from their savings at Christmas - on average £193 per household. How great it must feel to receive a letter saying there’s nearly £200 waiting for them – and how encouraging to know that they alone have saved every penny of it! In total, our clients saved £196,700 ahead of the festivities, rather than relying on credit.

Not all of our clients are in a position to put aside these savings. For those going through an insolvency option, our main priority is saving for their insolvency fee. Of course, the sooner they raise this fee and are able to submit their application, the closer they are to becoming debt free and an altogether brighter future, so it’s all relative.

For every one of the people working to find a solution to their debts, whether it’s through their savings pot or receiving a treat-filled Christmas hamper, our aim is to lighten the load a little at Christmas and bring back joy into the season.

For more ways to prepare for Christmas on a budget, click here.

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