Now into our 7th year, both debt coaches Steve Hart, who works 3 days per week, and Mary Irwin, who works 2 days per week, continue to annually visit approximately 50 people between them, where the church is throwing a lifeline to people with unmanageable debt. They find that people with anxiety, depression, and other psychological conditions more often run together with financial difficulties. More recently the money saving expert Martin Lewis said, “There are a few free services that will help you go debt free, but if you want someone to hold your hand, I cannot recommend CAP highly enough.”
In 2017 we’ve seen 15 individuals/families go debt free. Since the Centre started, the 300 people who have contacted CAP from the Yeovil area will always remain at the heart of who we are and what we do. Whilst we aim to connect a befriender to each client, we continue to struggle in this area of our work. Thankfully befrienders have started to come forward from several new churches in our area and we continue to provide befriending training and investment in our Yeovil CAP Team.
CAP Money courses, continue to be part of the Centre, with William Webbe, our Community Links Co-ordinator, taking the lead role. Five courses took place during the year, which enabled people to learn how to budget.
Six families (plus Mary) went on a Discovery Break at Brunel Manor, where they are given a free short holiday break and where a team from CAP head office facilitates the events, including many opportunities where the love of Jesus is shared in so many different ways. Seven people made first time commitments to Jesus and in December two were baptised, following their move to South Chard Church.
The Gone Fishing café, which is open weekly on a Thursday morning in the St Johns’ church building, continues to provide a great help. Not only anyone who fancies a coffee and company, can attend, but we find this a great help to encourage CAP clients to connect with the debt coaches before their first home visit. This is very helpful when a client’s visit may be 2-3 months away. Helen Peace leads a great team of volunteers to enable this ministry to operate.
Ian Croxford and Ed Brooks continue to lead the Tuesday men’s discipleship group, who meet for breakfast from 11.30am to 1pm. Ian cooked a Christmas dinner for 12 men, using the new kitchen in the Schoolrooms.
We saw 35 Christmas hampers made up by local fellowship groups from different churches, including Yeovil Radio Cabs. In addition, Red Berry Recruiting and ASDA donated Christmas foods, which together made up an additional 20 large food bags, distributed to both CAP clients and some who frequent the Gone Fishing café. For space reasons, the Christmas Tea was located upstairs in the Schoolrooms, where we saw our largest number of families and individuals come together, with many staying on to the Carol Service.
We saw a record GateWay coffee shop charity day in March where £1,400 was raised, and in October, the Music for CAP event brought in £1,500. We thank David Upton, who continues to paint on canvas and sell his artwork to raise funds for the Centre; approx. £1,000 has been raised by David so far. Along with the many regular monthly gifts provided by so many in St Johns, we also received a large gift from an individual, which enabled the Centre to nearly break even in 2017.
Steve & Mary spoke at several churches and different types of church groups, plus many organisations in the area, including meeting many individuals working in agencies who are now referring their clients to CAP.
The Lord’s Larder continued to be a very important agency working with us, where 91 food parcels had been given to our clients (10% increase on 2016). In addition, we occasionally provide a fresh food shop on top of the non-perishable food provided by the Lord’s Larder.
We are pleased to announce that the Management Committee has increased in number with the addition of Jill Martin and Alan Guy; they join Mike Streatfeild and Margaret Hamilton, along with Steve, Mary, and William. We continue to thank Mike for chairing this committee.
In May, Steve started working for CAP head office as an Area Manager, thus stepping down as the Yeovil Street Pastor co-ordinator. In this 2 days per week role, up to December he managed 17 CAP Centres from Bristol down to Weymouth, across to Bournemouth and up to Swindon; since then the number of Centres he manages has changed. In the last few months of 2017, CAP made a top to bottom change in their network management structure, which meant Steve had to take on ½ day extra more important work but give up ½ day work. This meant he handed over 10 Centres in the Bristol and Swindon area and took on 5 Centres closer to Yeovil. He’s now pleased that Yeovil is at the centre of the area he manages in his Area Manager role.
We continue to rejoice with the Archbishop of Canterbury as our patron, and in a recent survey, 94% of clients described the CAP service as ‘a great help’ or even ‘life transforming.’ In May 2017, MPs in the House of Commons discussed CAP’s positive contribution to society.
The church family from St Johns continues to show their amazing support and commitment to prayer, giving financially, befriending clients, making and posting Birthday & Christmas cards, taking clients shopping, providing food, helping serve at CAP events and the Thursday Gone Fishing Café. It continues to be a pleasure and a privilege to serve and work with the St Johns’ family, in what can only be described as a life transforming ministry, where there is ALWAYS HOPE!
One large area of help was focused on getting a client who was homeless, into a housing association flat and providing him with carpet and white goods. He has since helped St Johns with a few items of maintenance, including new doors on the cupboards in the upstairs room in the schoolrooms.
We are always looking for people to support this community transforming work, which can be done in several ways – you can receive the 3-weekly email update, become a befriender and/or commit to praying for the debt coaches going on their every visit, join the management committee, or support the work financially. Either way, please contact Steve Hart on email@example.com or Mary Irwin on firstname.lastname@example.org and if you just want to find out more about this work, just speak to either Steve or Mary.
Our ongoing prayer is that God will enable clients to fully engage with the free CAP service to help them journey out of debt, and that both Steve and Mary, along with our befrienders, will make the most of every opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ, through words and actions.
We have much to rejoice the Lord for and the importance of what Paul said in Romans 10 v14:
And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him?
And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?