I’m now been working at CAP for 4 weeks. This last two weeks have been especially hectic with our annual 3 day conference which sees all the staff from head office and our centres across the country, join together to spend time with one another, being inspired and encouraged about what we do. There are two conferences one for the South and another for the North, with head office split between the two.
I must admit it was quite intimidating arriving at the conference having only spent 3 weeks at CAP and knowing very few people. But it was great to meet centre staff who go out and meet clients every day, they are the front line of what we do and it was inspiring to see their passion and commitment. We also got the chance to hear from clients who have had their lives changed through working with CAP.
I suppose I came to the conference wondering whether there was a place for me at CAP. You see, from first impressions, CAP is full of big characters, extroverts are in the majority and everyone seems to exude confidence, excitement and enthusiasm. If you know me, you’ll probably know that’s not really who I am. I’m normally fairly quiet and reserved, I feel things deeply but it takes a lot to get me excited and even then I don’t really express it. Especially at the moment, given what happened over the summer. I’m probably not your typical CAP employee. So I found myself a little overwhelmed, wondering if I’d be up to the job, if I was in the right place.
But hearing from the Client’s at the conference reminded me of why I decided to leave everything and move to Bradford for this year. You see for me it’s all about hope.
Hope is one of those things that you don’t need to think about until you no longer have it. Most of us can take it for granted and are unfamiliar with the black chasm that is hopelessness. But many of our clients find themselves in that dark place, with no light to show them the way. For whatever reason they are crushed under the weight of insurmountable debts, with constant letters and phone calls, and no apparent way out. They often find themselves isolated, alone and ashamed. They have no hope and life is a battle that they don’t seem to be winning. The staggering statistic is that 40% of our clients have considered suicide before coming to CAP. That’s 40% of clients who feel so lost and alone that they are considering suicide as their way out, their escape. When you stop and really think about it, that statistic is heartbreaking.
However, into that bleak and desperate situation, CAP have a chance to bring hope. We can go in and offer a solution, with professional debt counselling, by taking away that paperwork, stopping those phone calls and creating a repayment plan so the Client’s can either pay off their debts or explore insolvency options. Whilst at the same time bringing God’s love and good news into that situation. You hear the client’s testimonies and you can tell that it works, that CAP makes a difference (stories like those of Kathie and her husband).
Everyone deserves this opportunity to break free from debt and have a chance at a brighter future. Unfortunately we can’t currently reach everyone who rings in asking for help, because we simply don’t have centres in every area that needs them. We need to more than double the number of debt centres we currently have in order to provide the bare minimum coverage needed to reach the whole of the UK. Which means we need a lot more funding and churches willing to partner with us.
If you ask everyone at CAP why they do the work that they do, you’d probably get lots of different answers. But for me it really is all about hope, that opportunity we have to meet people as they stand on the edge and tell them they don’t need to jump, that there’s a life and a future for them. This is what I have to remind myself of every time I feel a long way from home and miss the people I love, every time I worry if I’ll be able to fit in, every time the stress and pressure of fundraising feels like too much. I am a firm believer in hope, and if the job that I do gives me a chance to share that, then I know this is where I’m supposed to be.