Today sees Christians Against Poverty (CAP) launch a new service, CAP Life Skills. This complements our current debt management work, by helping build financial capability through a holistic 8-week course. Run as a community group meeting each week, CAP Life Skills looks at the wider issues surrounding money management. The groups aim to empower and support members to live financially healthy lives through developing the confidence and decision-making skills they need to survive on a low income.
There is a clear need for not only financial education, but an accessible and holistic education course that teaches people life skills. Statistics show that 57% of British people do not track their spending, only 41% of the population are saving and 65% of CAP clients report that lack of budgeting was a cause of debt. To add to this, cost is often cited as one of the top reasons preventing adults from living a healthier lifestyle and 42% of people suggest they would eat more healthily if they had more money.
These statistics demonstrate the need for a service like CAP Life Skills. By promoting health and wellbeing, healthy relationships, budgeting and organisational skills, it has been specifically designed to reach those on a low income and need additional support to effectively maintain their financial wellbeing.
Following an 18-month pilot, there are now 56 CAP Life Skills impacting those taking part. By coming alongside those who are especially vulnerable, the course seeks to not only build financial capability but also community.
Shirley Bowen was one of the first CAP Life Skill Coaches and is now successfully running her fifth course. Each week Shirley starts her session with ‘community time’, providing members a two-course meal, which for most is the only hot meal they will eat that week. It has been this that has made the biggest difference to people. One CAP Life Skills member said the best part of the course was breaking their isolation; getting out, making new friends and changing how he managed his benefits.
There is a long-lasting impact for CAP Life Skills members, whether it is breaking isolation, learning how to budget, developing cooking skills or becoming part of a community. CAP Life Skills gives its members confidence to make decisions, provides an environment to share ideas and encourage each other. We are excited to officially launch CAP Life Skills and see the number of courses grow across the UK.
‘You see someone come from total despair over their financial situation, a total disregard to living within a budget, a life in chaos - to a future of order.’ – Shirley Bowen, CAP Life Skills Coach, Blackburn
Dawn Stobart is Director of External Affairs at Christians Against Poverty (CAP). CAP provides free, face-to-face debt help, including a home visiting and a full debt management service. CAP is also the largest provider of free, face-to-face, adult financial education in the UK.
 Family Resources Survey data in Rowlingson, K. & McKay, S. (2014) Financial Inclusion: Annual monitoring report 2014, Birmingham: University of Birmingham.