Fringe Box



Surviving Summer On A Shoestring: Sound Advice From Christians Against Poverty

Published on: 13 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 16 Jul, 2014

A charity that is helping Guildford families who struggle with debt problems is offering tips to survive the summer holidays on a budget.

Set up two years ago, the Guildford branch of Christians Against Poverty (CAP) has already visited about 70 households. Six of those families who were once struggling with their finances are now debt free.

The Guildford area manager of Christians Aganist Poverty (CAP), Jane Seals, pictured at Westborough United Reformed Church.

The Guildford centre manager of Christians Aganist Poverty (CAP), Jane Seals, pictured at Westborough United Reformed Church.

Now it wants to remind families of the free or low-cost activities that can be enjoyed instead of putting family finances at risk.

CAP’s Guildford centre manager Jane Seals said: “When the weather is good, the options are more obvious but when it’s wet, you have to be more inventive and it helps to have some good ideas to hand.”

Many local councils have activities on offer for children in parks, libraries and sports centres, while most museums are free and may have special summer events on offer.

Jane added: “I want to say to parents, be smart about the summer holidays. Do your research now and make a plan. Decide how much you can afford each week and create a ‘treats fund’ – however small – and talk about it with your children.

“Involve them in how you will spend it – they will appreciate what happens so much more and it’s a great lesson for them.”

Here are CAP’s top 10 tips:

  1. Make sure you have other parents’ phone numbers before the children break up from school. A play date is the easiest way to entertain – and if the favour is returned, you might win yourself a quiet day!
  2. Remember treasure hunts as a kid? Geocaching is the updated version and is suitable for all ages. Download a free app such as c:geo onto your smart phone and away you go. Find out more at
  3. Avoid the ice-cream van by making your own lollies with cheap moulds and squash/fruit juice. Freeze different colours in sessions to make stripes!
  4. If you’re going anywhere for the day, take a picnic and you’ll avoid the expense of cafes when you’re out. Refill water bottles with squash, add some crisps, sandwiches and fruit – done!
  5. Get crafty with papermache, card making, find someone who knits, paints, does DIY and can share their expertise.
  6. Get baking! It doesn’t have to be expensive. Buns, flapjacks, biscuits – they are all fairly easy and will brighten up a dull afternoon. If you don’t want to put the oven on, try putting ‘fridge cake’ into Google.
  7. Visit someone – a relative, friend or neighbour who would like some company. It will make their day and give you all a change of scene.
  8. Avoid shopping as a pastime. It’s not a good habit for you and could spell trouble for your children in future.
  9. Become a nature detective! Lots of free printables, ideas and venues to discover from the Woodland Trust via
  10. Don’t beat yourself up about not being able to provide a plush holiday for your family. The most valuable thing you can do is to spend time with them – even if it’s washing the car together and getting soaked.

CAP offers its debt advice services free as it receives donations from churches and individuals who want to help people.

CAP will help anyone regardless of their religious beliefs. It does this by a holistic approach to people’s debt problems and provides plenty of on-going support if needed.

In most cases a CAP account is set up for families, which acts like a simple bank account. People make one weekly or monthly payment to cover bills and debts. CAP then distributes this on the family’s behalf.

Sadly, about a third of clients who contact CAP have been so worried about their debt problems they have contemplated suicide. Jane Seals said this national figure is also born out locally in the ‘affluent’ Guildford area.

Christians Against Poverty has a wealth of knowledge in helping families overcome spiraling debts and encouraging them to live to a budget.

To find out more, visit or call 0800 328 0006.

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *