Start the year with HOPE.

At Christians Against Poverty (CAP), we help people who are struggling with problem debt and, no matter how challenging their situation may be, we know there’s always hope.

This year has been challenging enough with the coronavirus pandemic, so we want to encourage people to get help now so that they can have a more positive end to 2020.

Hope signals the beginning of change so, with this in mind, let’s look at some of the positive changes we can make as we step into 2021.

Health

How can you make getting healthy easy and achievable?

There are some great resources and tools out there to help with improving health and wellbeing. See nhs.uk/live-well/ for a range of ideas aimed at adults or nhs.uk/change4life for great tips for families.

Whatever you’re trying to achieve, break down your ultimate goal into a daily habit for success.

Willpower alone can only achieve so much. As well as creating achievable goals, having support from a community will make the most difference. Look for support groups in your area, or ask a friend to keep you accountable.

Opportunity

Could this be the year you seek out new career opportunities?

Perhaps the pandemic has left you out of work, or you feel it’s time for a career change in 2021. There’s a lot of support out there to help with getting the qualifications, skills or training you may need. This includes free college courses to boost your qualifications and skills. Most courses under the Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee are available from April.

If you’re not sure what skills you already have, or what you need for the types of jobs available, get advice. Retraining as an adult may seem like a challenge but remember that lots of people are in the same boat and you will not be alone.

People

How can you build deep and lasting friendships with others?

After many months of social distancing, your connections with other people may have felt different from what you’re used to. Maybe you’ve lost your job and work friendships along with it. Or maybe you’ve built new connections with the neighbours on your street through helping each other out with shopping deliveries.

Professor Dunbar at Oxford University has reported that it’s vital to keep in regular contact to maintain friendship. He advises that so long as we can stay in contact online then our closer, more valued friendships should still survive.

Staying connected with others, even if through a screen, has helped many people realise that they’re not as alone or isolated as they may feel. So send that text, send that email or make that call to stay in touch.

Emergency funds

Is it time to start building up savings for a rainy day?

You’re probably familiar with the saying ‘saving for a rainy day’, and this is something we’re passionate about at CAP. Even just a few pounds a month soon builds up to create a buffer for unexpected events.

Remember, saving isn’t just about putting money away. It can also mean paying less for particular products or services. Take some time to look at what you can realistically cut out completely – for example, are you still paying Direct Debits for services that you no longer use?

Finally, consider where you can cut costs. Taking the time to seek out better deals can be time well spent and money well saved. For more top money saving tips, visit moneysavingexpert.com.

Debt Help locally

Our team is here, in Eastbourne, to help with debt problems through our CAP Debt Help service. Because we’re local we can also support clients practically too, providing emergency food packages and other support.

CAP client Joanne said: “Like any single parent, I was doing my best, I had a job but I struggled to provide for us on the money I could earn. Looking back now I didn’t realise how much my finances impacted every aspect of my life. Even though I was working hard to earn money, I was constantly having to deal with the feeling of disappointing my son. I heard about CAP and now everything has changed. This Christmas we have peace. And I realise that’s what makes my son happy.”

CAP Eastbourne will be running a Money Course in January and February. The CAP Money Course is a free course that will teach you budgeting skills and a simple, cash-based system that works. In just a few weeks, you will get to grips with your finances so you can budget, save and prevent debt.

Whether you feel pretty organised or whether it’s like a lucky dip every time you try to withdraw cash from your account, the CAP Money Course will help you take complete control of your finances. Join us from the comfort of your home, on Monday 25th January – simply email helendiplock@capuk.org at the Eastbourne CAP Debt Centre for more information.

If you are struggling with debt and need help, get in contact with CAP today on 0800 328 0006, visit capuk.org.