DPA Open Meeting - Tuesday 4 October 2022


12th October 2022

Open Meeting on Tuesday 4th October 2022 at 7.00 pm

Dorford Centre, Dorchester

CAP Money Course – Dick & Jane Howard


The Chairman introduced the speakers - Dick and Jane Howard - and welcomed everyone to the meeting.  There was a good audience of over 25 people.

Dorchester Poverty Action (DPA) Update:  It was explained that with inflation and the high cost of heating and fuel there were many more people in need of help. In the last six months 91 grants have been made to local people compared with 41 in the same period last year. Recently £2,500 had been given out in one week. £3,000-worth of £10 Co-op vouchers were purchased in September for distribution by 12 local helping agencies and additional grants of £100 made to assist with fuel costs or purchase of school uniforms. DPA is grateful for the many local donors and a lot of local support.

Our speakers: Dick and Jane Howard started the CAP Money Management Course at the Dorford Centre four years ago.   Over 15 million people in the UK are in need of credit for essential goods, food, etc, because they cannot afford to buy essentials out of their regular income. This leads to people getting into debt.  Through CAP there is help available with debt counselling but ‘prevention being better than cure’, learning to manage money through the Course offers practical steps to enable people to control their finances.

The CAP Money Course had been going for 14 years and the charity – Christians Against Poverty - is based in Bradford.  More than 1000 churches run the courses for their communities with over 10,000 people benefitting from it each year.  It consists of three active elements:

  1. Gathering information – bills, receipts, etc - to build a balanced budget in order to take control of your money thus helping you to see what you are spending and how you could save money.
  2. Dividing income into separate accounts - so that you can ensure that your money is going towards the things you had planned for in your budget.
  3. Using Cash and not Card.  This is not the current fashion, especially after Covid, but using cash for every day has many advantages and it enables you to stick to your weekly budget for food and living costs.

A free booklet is provided (a simple-language version is available too) on how to build a budget. There is a budget sheet showing categories of expenses – for example:  Food – Insurance – Holidays.  This can be done online but for many it makes more sense to record it with pen and paper.  The important thing is that the budget must balance. If it does not, then there is help for doing this. There are reminder cards - ‘CUT COST:  do it cheaper’            ‘CUT BACK:  do it less’  and  ‘CUT OUT:  don’t do  it.’

The CAP system emphasizes that Cash payment is preferable to Card because it is too easy to use a card and the invisible money is gone, whereas cash enables you to SEE exactly what you are paying.

Jane explained that the CAP Course is free, independent, tried and tested through its use by churches up and down the country.  It is flexible and life changing, based on common sense.  It is a good practical course which takes three nights over three weeks at 75 minutes per session.   Different times and days can be adapted to fit in various groups – as well as Zoom sessions.  

A pilot course had been established for prisoners on Portland, as well as talks at Homestart, Food banks, Mother and Toddler groups and Age UK.  Referrals for ‘one to one’ sessions for students and school leavers had also been tried.  Despite all these exploratory efforts, it is still hard to get people interested in doing the Course – the next step was to try and get into schools following a successful session at Kingston Maurward College.  Many students are completely unaware of the cost of living – and could easily fall into debt.

The audience was invited to ask questions and suggest ideas.

Support was expressed for the aims of CAP, which could be life changing.  It was explained that, when DPA ran a Quaker money management course five years ago, it was difficult to get people to attend but those that did turn up had no idea of how to budget or manage things, so did indeed learn from this sort of help.  A representative from Churches Together said the CAP course had the right approach and the material was clear and direct.

Further suggestions were that children leaving care had a struggle to manage money and their social work team may be interested in the course.  A similar suggestion was that UNISON might be interested since the lower paid staff at County Hall would benefit from CAP help.

Jane was pleased with the helpful feedback from everyone – and she put in a request for more coaches/tutors to run CAP Courses.

The Chairman thanked the Howards for their excellent talk – and hoped that through the DPA publicity on Radio Solent and other local media more people would now know about CAP and come forward to the course. The meeting closed at 8.05pm.




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