Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is an amazing organisation, passionately seeking to lift people regardless of age, gender, faith or background out of debt and poverty. It partners its financial expertise with the care of the local church to offer free debt help and a solution to people through 218 centres. Debt prevention is also something the charity is working hard to provide and it has partnered with more than a thousand churches to give free money management through the CAP Money Course.
CAP started in 1996 when John Kirkby gave up his successful career in consumer finance to help people out of misery and poverty associated with unmanageable debt. Since then it has grown into a national charity with a vision to have a CAP Debt centre, opened in partnership with a local church, in every town and city across the UK. Along the way it has helped tens of thousands of clients and won a host of awards including The Sunday Times Best Small Company to Work for two years running.
Today Christians Against Poverty will be at Westminster before a crowd of MPs, industry professionals, social action organisations and referral agencies . CAP UK Chief Executive, Matt Barlow and John Kirkby will be talking about the impact the church is making on UK poverty and officially launching CAP Job Clubs.
The aim of CAP Job Clubs is to equip church congregations to train jobless people to become more ready for work and, through employment, tackle hardship faced by whole households.
John Kirkby, now CAP’s international director has said: “Our evidence – and that of other debt agencies – shows a clear correlation between poverty, debt and unemployment. It’s very tough to escape this web of hardship and it can feel very isolating.
“The point is, everyone needs to feel useful. Human beings are hardwired to live for a purpose so unemployment punishes people both financially and emotionally. The good news is, the local church is perfectly placed to both spot those in need and offer support and practical skills which will help restore their self-esteem and be better placed to achieve work.”
“Already, we’ve had a great response from churches who want to help and encourage the unemployed. Around 30 congregations have signed up to learn how to run a CAP Job Club and we’re keen to hear from more.”
Job Clubs will take three strands: one-to-one coaching, an eight-week course and social time with other people in a similar situation.
The combination of unemployment and debt can be devastating for individuals and families. Unemployment in the UK is currently running at around just under eight per cent but among CAP’s clients, it is closer to 29 per cent who receive unemployment benefits. Debt counselling agency Step Change says their clients claiming job seekers allowance owe on average £15,412 to five different creditors.
A recent report from the Department for Work and Pensions shows that families in arrears are reluctant to return to work as creditors are less likely to be understanding if the client’s income improves. According to Save the Children, “Work significantly reduces the risk of severe child poverty. Only six per cent of children in families where at least one parent works are in severe poverty compared with 43 per cent of children in workless households.”
You can find out more about CAP’s Job Clubs on their website. The Evangelical Alliance also has a great article talking to CAP about how the Christian faith is at the core of everything they do and how God’s love is shared with those they work with.