The period from April to the end of 2020 has not been easy and has been a testing time for all 3 debt coaches (Mary, Anne Charlotte, and myself) who have adapted very well to some new CAP processes in how we operate and contact our clients – appointment phone calls rather than visits. Not meeting clients in their homes has brought its challenges particularly in getting hold of paperwork at the 2nd appointment, but we’ve adjusted very well to our new system of collecting paperwork via electronic means, where paperwork can be uploaded to a link by the client or the debt coach; something new and we hope will continue.

Across the UK network of 284 debt centres, the number of clients has decreased – centres normally booked up are now at a much-reduced capacity, often going from month to month rather than booked up 2 or 3 months ahead, like we used to be. For the Yeovil Debt Centre, we have continued to be busy with new clients, though rarely operating at 100% capacity. We have 36 clients on our books, 13 still going through the client setup phase, 3 looking at insolvency, and 20 repaying their debts, which means we’ve been able to continue building relationships, with opportunities to share the gospel.

We’ve continued to bring transformation into the lives of those reaching out for help from the local community. Whilst there were 5 responses to Jesus in 2019, with client events, in 2020 we have seen 4 responses to Jesus, with no client events; in 2020, fewer centres in the UK have seen client responses to Jesus.

In 2020 we saw 9 households go debt free and it was wonderful news in Oct 2020, that we were able to celebrate our 100th household going debt free. We would like to thank Rev James Dudley-Smith and the church family of St Johns for their dedication and commitment to keeping God’s heart for the poor at the very centre of St John’s ministry.

With 2 of CAP’s 8 core values being generosity and compassion, we have often responded to cries for practical help, especially when it comes to putting food on the table; fresh food shops have been added to food parcels from the Lord’s Larder. Several low-cost cars have also been purchased for clients and we appreciate those who have been involved.

We’re keen to link all clients with a befriender, and though that hasn’t been easy during the pandemic, we have about 20 befrienders from different congregations, some of whom have carried out an excellent job in staying connected with clients – we couldn’t do our job properly without our amazing group of befrienders.

The Christmas Hampers were made up by items from the Lord’s Larder and what the coaches bought with the hamper appeal totalling £1.7k; the Yeovil Town FC Independent Supporters Association donated £670, Yeovil Radio Cabs £150, and the rest from generous donations from supporters. Thank you if you made a donation. It was sad that we couldn’t have our annual Christmas Tea and the usual invite of clients to the Carol Service.

We have relied so much on the Lord’s Larder in 2020, especially from March to June, where we delivered 63 food parcels to our CAP families. We thank and Praise the Lord for this incredible community ministry, helping people in desperate situations. We can’t see people go without food on the table, especially when parents often go without to feed their children.

In addition to 50 monthly financial givers via standing order, without whom we couldn’t budget each year, in 2020 we’ve not been able to have our normal fundraising events and yet David Upton continues to raise funds via his Art for CAP Facebook page. St James & St Peters have nominated our CAP centre as one of their mission partners, committed to giving financially, amongst other things, over the next few years. Steve has stepped down from working 3 days per week to 2 days, which has brought savings on our expenditure.

We continue to find favour with the Western Gazette editor who so kindly publishes our press releases. We are thankful for his support and we believe God has given us a voice that many in ‘this space’ don’t have, so we want to embrace every opportunity to impact those the Lord sends our way.

Jennifer Matthew spearheads the leadership of the CAP Management Committee, with Jill Martin and Alan Guy (Margaret Hamilton stepped down at the end of the year). As I write this report, Gill Brookes has agreed to join this committee.

We have an excellent team of debt coaches – Mary, Anne Charlotte, and myself – and I would like to give Mary and Anne Charlotte the praise they deserve, especially during those very difficult times when they have to dig deep and continue to bring the Lord’s blessing into very chaotic situations, for some of the most desperate, isolated, and vulnerable members of our community.

We continue to seek people who will support this community transforming work, and you can do this in the following ways; receive a 3-weekly update; become a befriender where you can support clients on their debt and faith journey; pray for the debt coaches on their appointments; and support the work financially. If you want to find out more about this work, please contact Steve or Mary on stevehart@capuk.org and maryirwin@capuk.org respectively.

Even though we’ve only been able to have contact with our clients via the phone, we continue to make the most of every opportunity to pray with people and share the love of Jesus.

On a personal note, all of 2020 has been a journey of healing from my prostate cancer, and I’m so pleased to say that following my surgery at Southmead hospital in June, there is now no sign of cancer in my body. Praise the Lord! As I write this report, Anne Charlotte will very soon be having a hip replacement operation in Exeter.

Finally, the church family in St Johns continues to show their amazing support and commitment to prayer and financial giving. It continues to be a pleasure and a privilege to serve and work with the St Johns’ church family, in what can only be described as a life transforming ministry, where there is ALWAYS HOPE! Thank you, St Johns, for your dedication to serving the poor and helping to lift them out of poverty.

Our mission continues to be ‘save the lost, serve the poor, with the church, across the nation’ and our new CEO Paula Stringer will never compromise this as she brings a new culture and rhythm to how we operate in CAP, so our work in helping the poor is fit for the future.

Steve Hart
Yeovil CAP Debt Centre Manager