As I prepare this, everything is looking refreshed and very green after some much needed rain. Indeed our last few winters have been unusually dry especially in the east of the country and many rivers are way below the level one might expect at this time of year. It is reported that some farmers in the east have not planted crops because their land was too dry to support them and there was insufficient water to irrigate.
Drought will inevitably have an inflationary effect on food prices and that, on top of government cuts needed to get us out of debt, will prove very hard for some people. Apparently only ten per cent of the planned cuts have so far been implemented so there is much more pain to come! There will doubtless be a lot more of “we’re all in this together” over the coming months. We are also likely to hear more about “the squeezed middle” too.
South Warwickshire is by no means a poor area when compared with the northern part of the county where a clergy colleague reports children in his parishes who do not attend school because they do not have shoes to wear! Others tell similarly distressing stories that hardly seem credible in the twenty first century. Here we may not have people in such poverty but there are undoubtedly many who struggle to balance their budgets often through no fault of their own.
Many very conscientious, hard-working individuals are finding themselves unemployed or in financial difficulties for a variety of reasons. These problems have more than just economic consequences for those affected. People become stressed, marriages suffer and so does health. These are not irresponsible people gambling, drinking or taking drugs but good folk wanting to do the best for their families but unable to do so through circumstances beyond their control.
Last September we ran our first CAP Money Course in the Stourdene Benefice designed to help people to plan their budgets and live within their means. There have now been three courses and more are planned. All who have attended have found them extremely helpful.
CAP, “Christians Against Poverty”, was started just over a decade ago in Bradford by John Kikby. He had a successful career in the finance industry but he also had first-hand experience of debt. He used his skills to develop basic budgeting systems to help those trapped in poverty, gave up his job and lived by faith as CAP grew from a one man band into an international charity. Here in the UK there are now hundreds of centres operating in partnership with local churches to help those who are in debt.
As we plan our holidays and anticipate the summer months lets be aware that not everyone is as fortunate as we are. If you know anyone who is struggling, you may like to tell them about the CAP courses – it could literally be a life saver for some!