Witney Community Church is involved in running a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Centre, which was founded in 2014 by a group of churches in the town. CAP is a charity that works with individuals struggling with debt and aims to tackle the problem of poverty. They provide services such as debt help, job clubs, and life skills, which teaches course members practical skills to help manage living on a low income. Until July, the centre was managed by Gary Pizzey, who retired after many years’ service to Oxfordshire Community Churches in a variety of roles.
The new centre manager is Az Hobbs, who recently returned to Witney after a number of years spent living in Valencia, Spain with his family. Alongside his CAP role, Az also has a teaching role at The King’s School, where he teaches modern foreign languages and PE.
We asked Az to give us an update on his first few months at CAP:
I joined the CAP team as the debt centre manager for the Witney area 3 months ago after having completed my online training in early summer and I work 2 days a week. Since that first day, I’ve felt very much a part of the local set-up with some great people around helping me on my steep learning curve!
Last month, I also got the opportunity to visit the CAP Headquarters up in Bradford and meet some of the guys who put together all the debt advice for us to then deliver to our clients.
My work involves making visits to the clients’ houses, together with our fantastic “befriender” helpers. It’s there that we find out their financial situation, report back to Head Office with all the information and then talk them through the budget that has been planned for them and which signposts the best path to go debt-free.
I also manage the centre, look into creative ways to fundraise and am in contact with our individual supporters and also the 6 local churches that help the charity financially. The work that CAP does constantly produces stories of hope and freedom, as well as cases where there are still real challenges to be faced by the individuals.
We have increasing numbers of clients who have been in a desperate enough situation to contemplate or even attempt suicide, but many of them find new hope as they see a way out of spiralling debt and a huge weight lifted off their shoulders. Many others have mental health issues but in the midst of their struggles experience new friendships and genuine interest from our CAP workers. Although some are only focused on getting debt-free, I have already had a number of chances to talk about the love of God and get to pray with them at the end of a session.
The work is tough at times but hugely rewarding and I’m thankful to be able to play my part in this wonderful organization that is Christians Against Poverty.