Journeys of hope – in their own words.
When I was referred to CAP I was suffering from chronic depression. Catatonic and unable to function or complete basic domestic and physical tasks. I was inundated with bills that due to my change of circumstance and illness I was no longer able to honor, in turn, these escalated and the bills I could not meet were creating fines and bailiffs. Phone calls were not an option even if I was able to deal with the situation because on a pay-as-you-go, I could not afford the credit. The phone ringing, letters through the door, answering the door, and speaking to people was something I never dreamt I would have difficulty with yet all these things compounded in my head and I lived in permanent fear and dread to the point that I no longer wanted to live. I was not trying to get attention as I really did not communicate this to anyone I just simply wanted to sleep forever. In the past, I had been working throughout my life as an educator and had thoroughly enjoyed my profession.
CAP literally gave me a lifeline. Jean came to visit me on numerous occasions, always with love and faith. She would go off with piles of paperwork and take it back to the team. Liaise with my support worker and we would pray at the end of our meetings. I felt as if I had angel’s wings wrapped around my shoulders and the mental space, security, and feeling of being safe from the world enabled me to build the mental strength up to gradually start, over time to take on tasks and making positive steps forward. CAP had reminded me that there was always a family out there even if they were not blood. Mental health is very hard to understand, not least for a high achiever who was brought up never to be on benefits and always be in employment. I knew that the brain was a muscle and it needed resting but never thought I would be in the situation myself. I cannot thank Jean, Patsi, and the team enough. Angels do exist on earth! I know, they have lifted me! and in the words of Nina Simone, ‘It’s a new day, It’s a new dawn and I’m feeling fine!’ God Bless you all.
It was about 7 months ago that myself and my partner J were in a very different place as to where we are now. I had long since taken a break from my nursing career and the business that we had been running had disintegrated into a huge pile of debt and despair. My partner J had been told that the tingling in his arms and loss of feeling in his feet was due to a neurological condition that was degenerative. The future felt bleak. We had worked with Step Change a while back and so there was some order to the chaos of our debt of tens of thousands. It had been so draining to confront the debt that had felt overwhelming and exhausting on top of everything else. A payment plan was put in place to pay each of our creditors just one pound a month. After six months of this we had had to go over everything again with phone calls and letters to justify continuing for another six months paying the minimal amount. We were not looking forward to having to go through the whole process again in another six months and so on – for forever it felt like.
We were receiving phone calls on a daily basis and had got into the habit of not answering our phones to numbers we did not recognize. Our creditors were on our case and I am so grateful that they were not actually banging on the door because I really don’t think we would have coped with that. There was a real feeling of being hounded and the phone calls ensured that we could not forget what a mess we had made of things. On top of this J’s health was evidently deteriorating, already disabled with Cerebral Palsy he had always had poor balance but had now started to having to use his wheelchair indoors. The stairs were increasingly hazardous and using the overhead shower was very stressful. We had to move and we did not want to, we liked our house and loved living very close to our granddaughter who is a huge part of our lives. Our O.T. referred us to One Support. One of the things our One Support worker did was suggest Christians Against Poverty to us to help us with our debts.
The initial phone call to CAP was the last time we did anything in relation to our debts on our own. From there on in we were very evidently not dealing with this by ourselves. Our appointment was not for a few months, but information came through the post that explained what would happen and our Debt Coach made contact. Knowing that when CAP would visit they would offer to pray with us ( we would not be obliged to participate) felt unusual to say the least. All was fine though and on the day of that first visit the two ladies that came to our door, had neither a Bible under their arms or a judgmental look on their faces. They were both warm and accepting and have remained consistently so as our Debt Coach and Befriender and have been with us every step of the way. The relief that washed over us after that first visit was unforgettable.
From all of our collected paperwork it was later assessed that bankruptcy would be the best route out of debt for both J and myself. The fees to go bankrupt are £680 for each of us and CAP arranged a plan where we put an an agreed (manageable) amount of money away monthly towards these fees. CAP also helped to raise a considerable amount towards the fees through charitable donation and grants. This means that already we are almost at the end of our journey to becoming debt free.
What does that feel like? It seems the obvious answer but it really is as though a huge weight has been lifted. And although we are lighter we are also more grounded in our outlook to our finances and I know that we will continue to budget carefully with forward thinking, even when we are totally debt free and liberated.
We have moved now and the stress has reduced incredibly from this also. We are just a 15 minute drive away from our granddaughter. Yes, there are roses in the garden and really everything is quite rosy in so many ways for us now. As for CAP – we could never thank them enough.
Why Volunteer? – Flora’s Story
It is basically being a friend who can walk side by side with a client.
From my experience, you are someone the client can call upon to support them after the Debt Coach has completed the required procedures.
It might be that they need a parcel collected from the food bank or, on some occasions, to cheer them up you might just bake them a cake. Little things that communicate love and of course offering to pray. Sometimes ring them up for some encouragement and reassurance.
Of course, there might be situations they ring you because they are panicking because some creditor is at the door! (in that case I contacted Paula – the debt coach)
The whole thing is about walking alongside the client while they are going through their journey to debt freedom financially and in some cases Spiritual.
The journey develops you as well. (I found out my patience had improved, I had more empathy, etc)