THE founder of Christians Against Poverty (CAP), John Kirkby, has been awarded the Langton Cross for Community Service by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Mr Kirkby, who founded the charity in 1996 to tackle debt and poverty, was presented with the award at a ceremony at Lambeth Palace last Friday.
In the citation for the Langton Cross, Archbishop Welby said: “When it comes to inspiring others, sharing his story, and championing the poor, John is always ready to go again, no matter how many times he has exhorted people and churches to prioritise those less fortunate, as he knows each person has the capacity to transform their communities.
“He has a real sense of legacy, and an understanding of the good that can be done by working with others and celebrating others.”
CAP helps more than 25,000 people a year in the UK through its network of debt centres, and has helped to address the causes of poverty.
Speaking at the event, Mr Kirkby thanked everyone involved with the charity for helping this “remarkable thing become a reality” — and also thanked Jesus for supporting CAP for 21 years.
Mr Kirkby, who is also CAP’s International Director, said that Archbishop Welby’s work as patron of the charity was “truly, truly vital”, and that his influence was “making a difference”.
He said that CAP would continue to combat poverty, which was “endemic in our communities”, and that it would always be “pushing, hoping, and believing that there is more to come”.
CAP’s UK chief executive, Matt Barlow, told the audience at the event that the charity provided one of the most “widely respected debt services in the country”. The organisation, he said, ran 300 debt centres and 150 job clubs around the country which were used to help restore the confidence of the unemployed. The charity had also begun teaching life skills, including budgeting and relationship advice.
He said that the organisation had been responsible for bringing 7000 people into the Church, but that it did not push religion on to the people that it helped. “Jesus never Bible-bashed someone into the Kingdom of God”.
Archbishop Welby urged the audience to “get behind them [CAP] in every way you can”, saying that the organisation put “new possibilities into people’s minds”.
Mr Kirkby said that “this nation needs Jesus; this nation needs a Christianity that helps. . . The poor do not need to stay broken and lost, they need dignity, they need hope, and they need a Church.
“Maybe, just maybe, CAP and the Church are uniquely placed to be a catalyst for change across our nation. We will never underestimate what God can do with a bunch of determined people.”