There’s a particular sense of nervous excitement in the offices of Christians Against Poverty this week.
An hour-long documentary called The Debt Saviours is to be screened on BBC2 on Friday, October 5 at 9pm and while we’ve enjoyed national publicity many times before, this one’s very different.
Our bosses and our clients have frequently spoken about the effects of personal debt, council tax arrears, high cost credit, low income and the rest and we’re in constant contact with most of the personal finance journos.
Due to our face-to-face, long term help for people and lots of happy willing clients, we’ve become the go-to organisation for debt case studies.
However, the documentary doesn’t just introduce us to the people CAP helps (which it does brilliantly, by the way) it predictably questions our Christian motivation.
We are called Christians Against Poverty, and if anyone doubted, they will soon know we really are what it says on the tin. We pray, we sing – the works.
Well, truth to tell, we are deliberately distinct in the debt advice sector.
We work through a network of hundreds of churches and it means the extra-mile type of care comes as standard.
You’re struggling to afford hospital visits to your loved one because of your low income? The church can help.
You are without any income waiting for your universal credit payments? The church can help.
More often than not: You’re isolated, rarely leaving your home and suffering from acute loneliness and depression. The church can provide community and a reason to leave the house and find caring friends.
Here’s what the film maker didn’t include: hundreds of qualified debt counsellors negotiating with creditors and filling in the forms that will bring order to people’s finances, see people go debt free and keep their homes.
I guess that bit wasn’t too sexy… we get that.
Sadly, also cut: a wonderfully encouraging one-off visit to our Bradford head office from Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis and an award from the Archbishop of Canterbury for CAP Founder John Kirkby CBE.
In a beautiful bit of God’s timing, an independent report, calculating the wider benefits to society from CAP’s work, landed yesterday (Oct 2). The London School of Economics Housing and Communities (as well as the BBC) has also been scrutinising our work. The LSE interviewed more than 100 people, went through three year’s worth of records and describes CAP as “invaluable”.
Here’s a snippet of some of the gold therein:
People in need trust the church to help
A third of our debt coaches had previously worked in finance or healthcare
Their main motivation is to help the poorest
CAP’s benefit to wider society is almost £32m a year
We know there’s a huge team on the front line, in every community, caring for the most hurting and needy and it’s called The Church.
According to Ofcom, almost half the number of those working in TV describe themselves as ‘religious’ compared with the rest of the UK population. Naturally the benefits the church bring to society are, for them, a largely undiscovered truth.
So this is the story we have to keep telling despite the prejudices. We mustn’t become less salty or hide our light. The church is absolutely astonishing – it’s saving lives every day, bringing hope where there is none and – as you’ll see in the documentary – introducing people to the immeasurable and transforming love of God.
Marianne Clough National PR Manager at Christians Against Poverty.
Catch The Debt Saviours on BBC2 this Friday, October 5 at 9pm. Read about the behind the scenes info over on their blog.