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27 November 2017

Above Bar Church celebrates three years as a CAP Debt Centre

Ros_Briggs Ros Briggs CAP Centre Manager
Hamper CAP

It was three years ago that Above Bar Church began working with Christians Against Poverty (CAP) by opening a debt centre. We did it to help people get free from the burden of unmanageable debt and to give them the opportunity to hear about the difference that Jesus can make in their lives.

Since then, 122 clients and families have been referred to us and, to date, 21 have become debt-free. 19 people have prayed a prayer of commitment to follow Jesus.

Our clients

Many of our clients have got into debt through very difficult circumstances, such as ill-health (preventing them from working), relationship breakdown, poor mental health, addictions or benefit delays. For some, the constant phone calls and letters, the feelings of guilt and hopelessness have led them to think that it isn’t worth carrying on.

Others have been affected by the introduction of Universal Credit, where assessment can take six weeks or longer, during which they have no income at all. Although an advance is possible, it is often not enough to cover regular expenses. And it has to be paid back in a short time, which increases the amount of time they don’t have enough to live on. It has been good to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer addressing this very real concern in the November 2017 Budget. I am sure this has come about because of feedback from many frontline organisations, including CAP, which see the impact in the lives of real people.

CAP Debt Coins

The need in our city

The need in our city is great. We are currently taking bookings into February 2018 (three months away). But we have a great team of volunteers and staff who are committed to bringing hope to those struggling with debt. Ros Briggs manages the centre and, for the last six months, she has been joined by Pete White as a debt coach. Matthew Hudswell provides administrative support and Elisabeth Gosnell heads up our Thursday morning Coffee Drop-in. There are others who provide valuable support, praying for the work, accompanying staff on client visits, befriending clients, chatting with clients at the drop-in, helping organise events or providing lifts.

Southampton Above Bar Street from above

What CAP offers

CAP offers free, award-winning debt counselling to people in their homes, regardless of religious belief, age or gender. After gathering information about their financial situation, our team of experts at CAP’s head office in Bradford come up with a budget and a plan to help the client get out of debt.

Martin Lewis, from the website Money Saving Expert, recommends CAP to those struggling – not only financially, but emotionally. Recently, on ITV’s This Morning, he said, "If you can’t cope with thinking about your debts, as opposed to needing someone to help you to know what to do with them, I’d go to Christians Against Poverty'.

The service is always delivered through the local church and the offer to pray for a client is always given – something that is appreciated by the majority of people. It often leads to deeper conversations and the opportunity to share about the difference Jesus has made in our lives.

Helping practically and spiritually

It is a real privilege to be able to help our clients — not only practically, but also spiritually. It is an outworking of Jesus’s mandate in Luke 4:18-19 to, ‘proclaim good news to the poor . . . proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’.

It’s James 2:15–16 in action: 'Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?'

So how can you get involved?

hand (pastoral care)

How you can be involved

There are so many ways you can be part of this amazing ministry. Here are some examples:

  1. Pray for us. This is vital and we want all we do to be soaked in prayer! Contact Ros if you would like to be added to our monthly prayer letter or attend the monthly prayer meeting.
  2. Become a Life Changer. 70% of CAP’s funding comes from individuals who give regularly to support the work. No amount is too small (or too large!) and we will even give you a free book to say thank you! Sign up forms are available at the Information Desk on a Sunday.
  3. Join our team of befrienders. Join Ros or Pete for a client visit. You won’t be asked to do anything scary, just to be friendly to someone in need. If you’re not sure, you could come out on a visit and see how you get on.
  4. Help with a client event. This could be helping organise or serve at an event for clients or helping with lifts. We have our Christmas Celebration event on Friday 1 December with Callom Harkrader speaking. Hannah Chanter is heading up the catering team, but could you help by giving a lift to a client so that they can come and enjoy a Christmas meal and be reminded what it is all about?
  5. Help pack or deliver Christmas hampers to clients. We are compiling hampers for clients on the 13 December – could you help put these together or enjoy playing Santa by delivering them?

Please get in touch with us if you would like to know more or serve in some way.

You can contact us by email:

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