Frequently Asked Questions
Why did you start the CASCaid campaign?
Personal debt is a well known cause of homelessness, and Christmas
spending is the second major cause of such debt, after mortgage or rent arrears.
At the same time, the Christmas period highlights the needs of those in many
parts of the world (including this country) who have no homes in the first place.
So the idea of CASCaid is to help people think about re-organising their
Christmas budgets in order to help themselves and to help others at the same time
- at no extra cost to themselves.
Isn't that a bit simplistic?
Maybe, but then so was Jesus' teaching on charity! Generally speaking, the more we have, the less we tend to give. CASCaid attempts to make us realise how much we do have - even if we ourselves don't think so - and how very easy it would be to help others more than we do, while still having plenty left for ourselves.
When did you first get this idea?
It wasn't a sudden 'Eureka' moment. It developed gradually, over a number of years. It began for me while my children were at school, and I was exhausted by all the concerts, parties, church services and ferrying about even before Christmas Day itself, not to mention the expense of Christmas shopping and the peer pressure on me as a parent. Boxing Day, when it was all over, became my favourite day of the year. And then I started volunteering with various charities and projects working with homeless people... and one thought led to another. It made me reread scripture, and particularly the passages relating to the advent of Christ, in a very different light.
How do you find people react to your ideas?
Very positively! It's like pushing against an open door. I think a lot of people, not just Christians, would like to 'do Christmas differently'. Of course, there's a huge variation in people's ideas about how this might be done. But the important thing is to get people to think about it in the first place. And what works in some cases may not work in others. Rome wasn't built in a day.
Do you think the campaign is making any real impact?
Yes, I do; but I'm not naive enough to believe that it's all down to CASCaid. There are a number of different organisations and campaigns working along similar lines (see www.christmasgiving.net/spreading-the-word) . I do believe we could do more to work together. And I believe that a lot of people would like to do things differently to emphasise the significance of Jesus' birth and help reduce consumerism at Christmas, but find it very difficult to swim against the tide. The more we can support each other, the better.
Aren't you being a bit of a killjoy?
Absolutely not! At least, I hope not! Christmas is about happiness. But so many people aren't happy at Christmas, and so much of that is because of the pressures on them to spend, spend, spend... and the consequences of doing just that. So I'm trying to make people happier by getting on top of their Christmas spending before they even begin. It's more important than ever during the present cost of living crisis to emphasise that Christmas isn't all about spending.
How can you measure the results of CASCaid?
Well, of course, we can look at the statistics, which show that visits to the www.christmasgiving.net website are increasing year on year. But it's more than that. It's about talking to people, and discovering that they, like me, are finding they enjoy the festive season more by resolving to spend less - and that they, like me, are finding that they can afford to give more to charity as a result. And it's about feeling that we've really tried to make Christmas a happier time for many of those who have very little to celebrate at this time. After all, Jesus came 'to bring good news to the poor', not to make them poorer. If CASCaid helps in any way to do that, then it's certainly fulfilling its purpose.