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22 November 2013

CAP launches emergency Christmas food aid campaign

CAP launches emergency Christmas food aid campaign

By Jacqueline Laing

From Disneyesque scenes to mind-blowing tearjerkers, the battle of the Christmas adverts are well and truly underway. Joining the ranks of the big names is a small charity with a big heart, where Sarah, Zac and Louie are the stars of the show.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) has launched its Christmas campaign to help people like Sarah who without their help face a bleak Christmas.

The short film highlights the plight of Sarah who last Christmas was £30,000 in debt with no hope of enjoying the festivities. Taking it in their stride, sons Zac and Louie explain what life was like just before CAP intervened, offering them more than just baked beans for Christmas.

Sarah's Christmas turnaround came when local CAP manager Sally visited her at home after hearing about her unfortunate circumstances. After explaining how CAP could assist her to get out of debt, she realised they were short on food and arranged for a Christmas hamper to be dispatched.

Despite recession-busting talk, many other families and individuals face a similar situation this Christmas. According to the Centre for Social Justice, personal debt in the UK has reached £1.4 trillion, equivalent to 90 per cent of the UK's total economic output last year. That means the average household debt is £54,000 with the cost of living up 25 per cent over the last five years.

In the midst of the debt crisis, Yougov predicts that UK households will spend an extra £54 this Christmas, taking the average household spend to £822.

Payday loans will play a big part, with 1.2 million people seeking an advance to fund their Christmas festivities. By the start of 2014, one in three adults expect to start the new year in debt.

Ahead of their time, one of the key aspects of CAP's work is education; teaching individuals not only how to manage debt but how to prevent it also. This was thought to be a key recommendation, from a report by Jubilee+ into the impact of church-based debt and money advice initiatives.

Alongside this, their free service for all members of society, helps 20,000 people a year find their way out of debt, either through counselling, personal budget planning, negotiation or assisting with insolvency procedures.

Although Christmas hampers are just a tiny part of what they do, it helps to alleviate the burden of the Christmas spend.

CAP's policy is to never leave someone with empty cupboards, after their first visit. But as Matt Barlow, UK chief executive, says: "It comes with a cost. It's hard to imagine a more devastating situation for a mum than to be unable to properly feed her children, especially at Christmas."

With this in mind CAP would like you to consider giving what you can to make a difference to the most struggling UK households this Christmas.