A few years ago, I was thinking about printing greeting cards based on my original watercolour paintings. My daughter piped up and told me that I couldn’t just sell cards. I needed to support a charity too in the process.
She was right. Blessed to be a blessing is one of my guiding principles. So, having thought about it, a couple of charities caught my attention. But finally, I settled on CAP because the current CAP manager Babs Isaac, was also my daughter’s piano teacher at the time.
In my mind, that made the decision easy. She was so accessible and open; I knew that partnering with her would be a pleasurable journey in the future.
And I was right.
She thought we were going to just have a friendly catch up, when coming to see me last week. Instead, I made her sit and spill every single detail about CAP, as you will see!!!!
And we’re still friends!
I hope you will find this blog helpful in seeing why I chose to support this amazing group of people with my greeting cards.
I’ve written the interview down in a question-answer format, with Pradeepa being P and Babs as B!! So grab a cuppa and join me!
About it’s uniqueness:
P: How is CAP distinct from other debt relief agencies?
B: There are two main differences.
One, it’s based around a local church, in this case, Hope Church, Winchester. The unique advantage of this is that we’re able to link in and tap into befrienders from the church. Each client is offered a chance to connect with someone within the church who is a ‘befriender’. Their role is to come alongside the client and take them out for coffee or dinner, send encouraging cards etc. They offer vital social and psychological support, but have no financial involvement.
The second unique aspect is that we do home visits. The majority of debt relief agencies expect clients to come TO them. The nature of debt is that most people have anxieties and struggle to go out or even open the post. Going to talk to someone is a big hurdle. Some have physical illnesses too.
P: One of the reasons that I contribute to CAP in a small way is that I have been impressed with this wholesome approach to the person and not just the problem.
B: That is right, but it’s only possible for my team of 3 financial coaches, because of our link to the local church. For example, as a CAP manager, I can issue Basics bank vouchers, and help with food.
As a church, we have a great couple who will precook and freeze meals. We can then dish them out to families too.
P: So, every branch is helping in ways that are unique to them, besides the financial advice. But do you need to be a Christian to be a CAP client?
B: As far as we’re concerned, it doesn’t matter at all. Whether they’re of faith, no faith or a different faith is irrelevant to us.
We are Christians and will offer to pray with a client. But if they say, ‘No, thank you’, we won’t do it. There’s no judgement or offence. We will continue to help them and do our very best for them.
P: Has this model been duplicated or copy-able anywhere else?
B: I certainly don’t know of anyone else doing a similar initiative!
One of the great things about our model is that our team are ‘Financial Coaches’. We’re not financial advisors; that advice comes from the head office based in Bradford. Our job is to help the clients understand the advice and make sure that they grasp it well.
The faith element and the offer of spiritual care and prayer alongside the financial element is unique to us.
First things first!
P : If someone has a problem with debt or knows someone who has problems, how do they start?
B : All you need to do is to ring up the head office. It’s a free phone number - 0800 3280006. They would get details from them like name and address. They need the address to work out on their system which centre would cover where they live.
In our case, we cover Winchester, Chandler’s Ford and surrounding areas. And because we’re local, I could walk to my clients’ door even during lockdown, when we weren’t supposed to travel and continue to offer them support.
Going back to the chain of events, the head office will then contact us with details and we will arrange to visit their home. In theory, there are 3 visits.
The first one is to explain how CAP works.
The second visit is to gather information about the money going in, going out and the debts. This information is fed to the head office, and they come up with a plan, a way of getting out of debt. This is transmitted to the financial coach.
On the third visit, the coach explains the advice to the client.
All along this process, they can choose at any point, not to use CAP. Or they can get advice and then, choose to implement it by themselves (called the independent option).
Free, free, free!
P: Is all this free too?
B: Everything we do is free! From the first phone call and visit, to everything that we do on the ground is totally free, with no strings attached.
P: What happens when a person decides after these visits, to choose CAP for debt relief?
B: Once, someone decides, there’s a few procedures to complete. Then they are on track with the financial aspect of their life, they only need to make the agreed payments.
What we then help them with, is the social and psychological aspects. This is where the befriender comes in. They meet with them regularly and help them with even little things like opening letters.
So apart from our core team of 3 coaches, Sue, Cath and myself, we also have many volunteers and befrienders.
Can we get involved?!
P: With respect to how you operate financially, I understand that you’re funded by the church. Is there any way for others to contribute financially to CAP?
B: Yes, there are a few ways.
You could contribute directly to the head office through the website, www.capuk.org . That money will go to the work and resources there, that we tap into locally.
You could also contribute by bank transfer to the local centre at Giving - Hope Church Winchester (hopewinchester.org) using the account details there (please make sure you reference CAP when you do so).
If you’re a church member (Hope Church Winchester), you can do so through Churchsuite, and either reference us or let us know when you do, so that we can set it aside for CAP.
P: How do you use this money donated locally?
B: We use it to put on events, to provide food and gift hampers for Christmas and Easter which is coming up soon. I also run a café on Mondays. We used to do pizza lunches which we are hoping to restart in a way that works now.
P: Can people help practically?
B: Yes! People can volunteer at the café that I run and be supportive of the people that come.
This not only serves CAP clients, and there are quite a few who come. It also serves as a place for lonely people (who’ve been referred to me) from the city centre. We serve tea and coffee and home-made cake. We also do courses – like budgeting. We’ll invite people to other things and talk about faith too, in a very down-to-earth way.
At the end of the day, it’s there to help people feel welcome. We can always do with bakers and volunteers to help at the café. It runs on Monday 1pm – 2.30pm, term time only.
If people want to help, they can get in touch with me first, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is because I want to protect my clients, as they are vulnerable. I certainly don’t want people to just turn up to help without me knowing beforehand.
P: Can people from any church in the local area be befrienders too?
B: Of course. I provide training for that. There is a recruiting system, where they need to apply through their church. I will need to interview them and they will have to provide references. And they will have to do safeguarding training at Hope Church too. We do everything to ensure that the clients are not taken advantage of in any way.
P: Is that it or are there any other opportunities?
B: In the summer, we have plans to put on bigger events. And we will always need volunteers for that!
P: Is there a mailing list for people to go on?
B: We send out a monthly email prayer letter, for people who are interested in supporting us with prayer. The information will be anonymised, but it will give a flavour of things going on with clients and events that we’re planning to hold.
Did you know?
P: How many clients do you have at the moment?
B: Around 20, and a couple more on the horizon. We certainly have capacity for more at the moment. The person who I got an email from this morning has been in debt for many years!! The rising fuel prices and living costs are certainly not helping in making ends meet!
P: Where I grew up in India, poverty was very obvious. Here, however, it can be so hidden.
B: Winchester is certainly not a place that people would associate with poverty. But there are pockets of severe poverty and deprivation even within this city.
And yes, people may look flashy on the outside. But everything will be on credit card, leading to debt after debt.
P: I suppose, the church offers a new community to belong to, whereas, before, all their acquaintances were also living like them.
B: That helps too, as people have a new way of life and new values modelled to them. The one that helps the most is the faith aspect.
In fact, I’m hoping to start a bible study in the café soon for whoever wants to participate.
P: Thanks Babs, I also found out that John Kirkby, the founder of CAP has written a book called ‘Nevertheless’. This is free to order from the website www.capuk.org and so I ordered one today!
B: Yeah, it’s about him and his wife Lizzie, who ended up in severe debt and how they got out of it. Because of that experience, they came up with the CAP money system and set up CAP, to help people in similar situations.
P: This has been enlightening!
I remember having a conversation with a friend who said that she didn’t believe in God, because if God existed, why all this pain and suffering? Talking with you has told me again that this is how God is sorting the mess in the world that we have created. He talks to and acts through ordinary people like John Kirkby and yourself.
B: Exactly! This is why we function through the local church. We’re His hands and feet on the ground.
The most important bit…
P: Lastly, what’s your advice to anyone in debt?
B: Please call the freephone number. If they don’t feel up to it, they can email me at email@example.com, if they’re local to the Winchester/ Chandler’s Ford area. I am happy to go around and have a chat with them. It’s an opportunity to build relationship and for them to see that I’m just a normal person, here to help them. My working days are Mondays and Thursdays 9 am to 5 pm.
If people have got a friend who needs help, I’m more than happy to go and talk to their friend. They will still need to call the head office, but we will do everything to support them though that and if they struggle to make that call, we can do it with them.
We do all we can, to help initiate the first contact to help people begin their journey to a financially healthy life!
Thank you Babs, I’ve learnt so much today!!! I hope you did too, about this award-winning charity!
A quick list of the links from above:
Freephone number for anyone in debt to contact CAP: 0800 3280006
Main CAP website: www.capuk.org
Hope Church website to make donations to support CAP Winchester: Giving - Hope Church Winchester (hopewinchester.org). Please use reference ‘CAP’.
Email address of CAP manager Babs Isaac for all enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, the link to my shop page that sells greeting cards (10 p from each card goes to CAP, Winchester) : Greeting cards
Thank you for reading through with patience. I hope this has blessed you!
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section below and I will answer them as best as I can!!