Sally, CAP Centre
At our Advocate Gathering in July, we encouraged our advocates to help us grow by each seeking to Add Another Advocate. Sally Ben, our only active advocate in Leeds, quickly acted and I was invited to present to a debt forum in South-East Leeds from which I hope the word will spread and more churches and local charities will get involved.
I took the opportunity of being in Leeds to ask Sally if I could do an Advocate Spotlight on her and possibly meet one or two applicants helped by Acts 435 donors. I have heard our own Christians Against Poverty centre manager at my church in York speak of how humbling it is to be invited into the home of a potential CAP client on their first home visit. I captured something of that when I visited Sally. Those words: "Please come in" are a powerful invitation - not just come into my home, but come into my world and a more in-depth insight into who I am.
I have met Sally twice at Bishopthorpe Palace when she has come over for Advocate Gatherings but you get precious little insight into a person when you meet them at such gatherings. I was invited into her home, and into the home of two Acts 435 applicants, and what I discovered was just how special a person Sally is.
For Sally, a teacher by profession, isn't just working very hard in her Christians Against Poverty role, alongside working as the finance officer at her church. Home life is full of challenges. She and her husband (who came over from the Solomon Islands when she was there doing voluntary service overseas) adopted two boys when they were babies. Now 10 and 9, they need special support at school, and at home Sally and her husband have been told they both need to be home when the boys are together. Meanwhile, her husband has recently experienced problems with his vision and had to surrender his driving licence because his peripheral vision is not good enough to drive.
As a working mother myself, I cannot begin to imagine how Sally is juggling all this. It was most humbling to witness.
When asked what her experience of being an advocate has been, she answered:
"I absolutely love it. When someone speaks of a particular need, to be able to say that you might be able to help them is amazing. The recipient can be overwhelmed."
Sally spoke of some of the people she had helped - a debt relief order for Dan who was bi-polar, school uniform for a son going to high school whose mother was in a wheelchair and was desperately trying to compensate for this.
I met two Acts 435 beneficiaries and was again struck by that invitation: "come in" as I entered two contrasting worlds, but both with a shared problem of insufficient income. One in a sparse one-bedroomed apartment, trying to turn his life around; the other in an absolutely beautifully-decorated house, but left with crippling debt after her husband left her. When her fridge broke, Acts 435 stepped in to help.
Sally loves her work and encourages others to become advocates. "It's wonderful - you get to be the messenger and buy them the thing they so desperately need."
Sally has posted 45 requests over the 4 years that she has been involved with Acts 435. If you are interested in being an advocate do contact us - not just in Leeds but anywhere across the UK.