Go For It

A friend in need …

Church of Scotland Photo Library stockPicture © John Young / YoungMedia 2010
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Highland Perthshire Debt Centre would like to share one befriender’s story with Go For It blog readers, which will give you a flavour of how CAP works locally. Every CAP client is allocated a befriender, who walks the road with the client until he/she becomes debt free. (Note: names have been changed in this story).

I wasn’t sure what I was getting involved in when I agreed to become a befriender for a new CAP client. Denise was a big person in every way – and funny with it. She’d been very hurt by her husband leaving her for someone else, and leaving her, too, with debts to pay. But she had children and grandchildren who cared for her, and she was determined to get back on her feet. She’s a people person and I guess that’s why we clicked, because that’s what I am.

Denise agreed to work with CAP, and we initially hoped to work out a way of her repaying her debts. But although she was in work, her low income meant she’d no hope of repaying in a reasonable time-frame, and CAP’s approved money advisors’ recommended solution was that she went bankrupt. She was devastated at this suggestion. That was the last thing she wanted to do – she felt so ashamed, and a failure. However, over time, she came to realise that this probably was the best way forward, and CAP helped her through that process. Eventually, the huge burden of debt was lifted and she could look up and outwards again. Her health improved, depression lifted and despite her seasonal work ending, she was able to manage her finances much better.

We met for coffee most weeks during those difficult months, and told each other about our families and our lives. We discovered a shared love of ballet, which led us to go to the live relay of Giselle at our local cinema, and I was able to pay for her ticket as a small “blessing” from CAP.

CAP provide a down-to-earth, hands-on way for Christians to put their faith into action in a quiet, low-key way.
(CAP Highland Perthshire Debt Centre)

Denise’s son was coming to visit from the other side of the world, and she was desperate to get her garden into shape before he arrived, so I got my husband and a couple of other guys in our church to dig out the weeds and lay turf and take away all the rubbish lying around. We were able to pay for the turf from CAP’s client budget.

In the spring of this year, Denise got a part-time seasonal reception job, which turned out to be just what she needed to regain her confidence and self-respect, and she’s already been asked to do that job again next year. In the early days, I helped her by paying for food shops until she got established at work and had a regular income coming in. Twice I gave her petrol money so she could get to her work. These expenses are refunded by CAP, so I was able to bless her in these practical ways.

Gradually, we built a relationship with each other, and eventually the bankruptcy went through and my client was debt free. We still see each other, maybe not as regularly as we did – but our friendship actually matters to both of us, which is a really good outcome in the end – given I didn’t really know how things would work out when I first volunteered for this job. In fact, she took me out for dinner at a local restaurant last week to say thank you for everything CAP and I had done for her! Nice one!

CAP’s a great organisation to volunteer for. They provide a down-to-earth, hands-on way for Christians to put their faith into action in a quiet, low-key way. I guess caring for people in difficult circumstances is something that the Christian church has always been good at and Christians Against Poverty are relative newcomers on the Scottish scene with a lot to offer folks in debt, but maybe not all that well-known yet. But watch this space – the plan is to have a network of 50 CAP centres across Scotland by 2021 and we’ve got 22 opened so far with more in the pipeline, so we’re marching on!

If you don’t know much about CAP, then check out their website. Find out about the debt services on offer; investigate the job clubs they run; scope the work CAP do with people with addictions. Consider whether your church could also partner with CAP to help people disadvantaged by debt, joblessness or addictions in Scotland. The CAP family is growing fast in Scotland – but there’s always room at the table for more members.

Katie Allstaff
Chair of the Strategy Team
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Highland Perthshire Debt Centre

About CAP Highland Perthshire Debt Centre

piggy_bank_content (3)CAP Highland Perthshire Debt Centre are using a Go For It Main Grant to provide a free debt counselling service and one to one support; working with each client until they become debt free, and teaching budgeting skills.

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