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Prestigious award handed to CAP Whitehaven for their life-changing work

IMG B;essings Team Shot 2The High Sheriff of Cumbria, Julie Barton, has given Whitehaven’s Christians Against Poverty Debt Centre a Cumbrian charity award in recognition of the centre’s efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

She said, “The organisation stood out for its excellent work and I am very pleased that CAP Whitehaven is among a small number of charities across Cumbria whom I have selected to receive a High Sheriff Award this year.”

At an online meeting for those receiving awards as a celebration of her year in office, she also recognised the “amazing response to the COVID-19 crisis”.

The High Sheriff paid a special tribute to CAP Whitehaven for their “dedication, hard work and flexibility at tackling social isolation and loneliness”. In addition to the certificate awarded, the centre will also receive a grant of £500.

CAP Whitehaven’s Centre Manager, Jonathan Berry, responded to the award by saying how much it meant to all the volunteers; “It really puts the wind in our sails,” he said, as he also thanked the Cumbria Community Foundation, the Cumberland Building Society and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust who are supporting the charity’s work.

The High Sheriff spoke of how well she feels the free local debt counselling charity are adapting to very different circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic and hoped that the award would help CAP Whitehaven to “tackle family breakdowns and suicide” and how the debt charity’s work “empowers people to break free from the chains of debt.”

Jonathan Berry, CAP Whitehaven’s Centre Manager, outlined the CAP process and how COVID-19 has impacted the service. “We have always been a face to face service but because of the pandemic we currently operate mostly via phone.” He also described a situation where he met with a client “who lived in darkness, curtains closed, fearful of the next letter, the next phone call.” He went on to say that when CAP works with the client’s creditors, and a plan is in place, “it’s great to see light coming back into their homes and lives”.

The High Sheriff had previously visited Whitehaven’s CAP Centre last year where she asked about the isolation that debt can bring to people’s situations. One of the CAP clients told her, “I didn’t want to tell my family what debt I was in, but when I started with CAP I felt so encouraged by the team – I never felt judged.” She went on to say, “I gained the confidence to deal with the whole situation and I began to get my life back again”. She is now debt free.

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