By Susan Collins
Do you worry about money, how to budget? Would you like to get out of, or avoid, debt?
These are concerns that many of us share these days and the Outreach Committee at St. James Westminster in London may be able to offer a helping hand.
In 2015, the committee and other interested parishioners decided to participate in an international initiative, the aim of which is to combat poverty. Christians Against Poverty (CAP), provides secure and confidential advice and support to anyone who identifies budgeting as a need.
CAP, a not-for-profit registered charity, was founded in England in 1996 and is now an international debt counselling charity in such countries as Norway and Australia. It teaches simple methods to help people to budget, save and to pay off and avoid debt.
The focus may be on those who struggle in, and with, poverty but the resources of CAP are open to anyone who hopes to balance a budget and would seek/need advice to do so. It is a non-denominational program.
We are very fortunate to have five dedicated parishioners at St. James who attended workshops in 2015 in order to act as ‘money coaches’ for those seeking assistance in money management: students, retirees, single parents, and more.
The course and course materials are FREE; the course is held at St. James Westminster and consists of three consecutive weekly sessions lasting 2,5 hours each, usually on Thursday evenings. A website is provided for additional support. Personal financial details are not shared with the money coaches or other participants.
More than thirty people have taken the course since last winter; each session has consisted of five to ten registrants, some from St. James, but many from the broader community. Comments from registrants have been positive: “I would recommend this course to anyone, regardless of financial situation or income”; “It was a challenge, but worth it, to live without my credit card” and, perhaps the most significant: a registrant who told the coaches this fall that she was now out of debt.
The program has had an impact on the coaches, too.
“It’s an enriching experience to know that we are making a difference, one person at a time,” says Steve Mayne.
The coaches and St. James’ Outreach Committee see CAP as an opportunity to provide a ‘hand up’ rather than a hand out, and a way to share our faith, humbly and gently, with those we help.
Sessions are ongoing this fall and planned for the New Year as well. November classes will be held Thursdays, Nov. 10, 17 and 24 from 7 to 9:30 PM.
Anyone interested in joining these sessions please call 519-432-1915 or email [email protected] to register. If anyone is interested in starting a CAP program at your church, please contact Donna Hefferton at [email protected], for further information.
Susan Collins is a member of the Outreach Team at St. James Westminster in London.