We're with you Struggling Aussies need a friend now more than ever 21 May 2020 Heidi Fernance When COVID-19 hit Australia, many lives were shaken — maybe including yours. If you have been affected, know that we’re with you, just like CAP is with Sarah and Mark, whose family were significantly affected too. Almost immediately after social distancing was put in place, Sarah’s bookings as a professional photographer dried up. Mark’s hours at his retail position in menswear were at first dramatically reduced, then stopped altogether. “That was basically where we both found ourselves unemployed. And in the meantime, I was trying to sell prints and upfront sessions… to keep us affording the basics like food and fuel.” Losing work is devastating for anyone, but for this young family already burdened with overwhelming debt, it could very easily spell disaster. A few years earlier, the arrival of their first child was met with congenital complications and postnatal depression. It took many specialist appointments along with a minor surgery to help their son learn how to feed and his ongoing food tolerance issues still require careful management. To provide the additional care he needed, Sarah’s return to work was delayed and what was once a healthy amount of savings vanished. “Then we started living on credit cards — grocery shops on credit cards. It was crazy. It didn’t feel like we had a choice at the time.” Sarah and Mark were getting hounded by creditors, taking a toll on their family. “The phone was constantly going off and it was just incessant, we couldn't get on top of it. Every time we would try to get help from anyone, we just felt completely alone, like we didn't have anywhere to turn. We didn't know which way was up.” In desperation, Sarah reached out to an online mothers’ group, where someone mentioned CAP might be able to help — and they were right. After a visit from their local church’s CAP Debt Coach, a situation that once felt impossible had hope for the first time. "Once it all got set up and we were starting to see that everything was in order, the calls stopped, and we were just putting a set amount in every fortnight — it was like the clouds had completely parted.” CAP is with clients for the long haul, including weathering storms together — because storms do come. When COVID-19 blew in, Sarah and Mark were hit hard. But they were not alone, the local church was able to say “we’re with you”. Even though things are tough, the heaviness of debt remains lifted from their shoulders so they can focus on getting through to the other side. “We feel like there's so much uncertainty and there’s definite anxiety there. But I just can imagine it being so much worse. If we had to negotiate with every single individual financial institution, it would be complete hell.” Sarah and Mark have the confidence to face this uncertain time because they have an advocate in CAP, someone who will relieve the pressure and give them space to breathe. “We’re looking forward to things at the moment, which sounds ridiculous in the midst of a pandemic.” There are so many more Australians who have been blind-sided by the global pandemic, their financial security ripped from underneath them. The burden is huge, and if we’re going to recover as a nation, we need to do it together. Churches are ideally placed all around Australia to meet the need within their communities and say “we’re with you” to families just like Sarah and Mark’s. To offer hope in difficult financial situations, the Church needs the tools, and they need them now. CAP will mobilise churches to be ready to be the advocate that thousands of Aussies need, but only your help can make this possible. This is the time for Christians to step up and offer our communities practical help. Will you join CAP and say “we’re with you” by making a donation today?