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Beyond Beans on Toast Q&A with Claire Povey

Claire Povey talks to us about her book, Beyond Beans on Toast, which has just had a wonderful new cover and full internal update. She explains the original idea behind the book, and why it's perfect for giving away to those in further education or heading off to university.

Claire, tell us where you live and what you do?

I live on the sunshine coast down in Eastbourne with my husband Martin, our two children and a cat called Mittens. I work for a charity called Festive that supports students in FE colleges and sixth forms to live for Jesus and share Him where they are!

Aside from Festive, outreach in our local area and the general madness of family life… I am a plant freak. I love gardening! We’re also really blessed to be able to go for walks along the South Downs – they’re even more beautiful when you know the One who made them. 

When did you write the book Beyond Beans on Toast?

The first edition of Beyond Beans on Toast was published in 2015.

What prompted the concept of the book?

 A chaplain asked us if we knew any resources that could be given to the many students leaving her huge FE college to go to university. She had supported the college Christian Union through lots of outreach events, seeker’s courses and seen many seeds sown – she was prayerfully on the hunt for something that would point students on to explore more once they moved on.

 After a bit of digging around, I could see some fantastic options preparing Christians for university life – but nothing ‘tailor made’ for those who were currently far from Jesus.

 The chaplain ingeniously made some student friendly ‘recipe leaflets’ to give away. I think they were a quick and easy ‘how to turn a bagel into a pizza slice’ affair. They also encouraged students to check out the CU and make room for the big questions in life when they started university.

 That’s when the brain baby for Beyond Beans on Toast was born. After a conversation with Jonathan Carswell, we could see that a ‘survival manual for uni’ type book could be both a practical and powerful way to get students thinking. We wanted to produce something that young Christian students would feel excited to give away and that not-yet-believing students would feel blessed to receive!

The new edition isn’t just a fresh cover, can you explain what has changed inside?

A lot has changed in the student world in eight years. In order for BBoT to remain an effective

tool, we needed to produce a new edition with lots of entirely new content.

 The 2023 book has a fresh design both inside and out and is packed with:

 -       Delicious recipes with step-by-step photos including tasty new editions (from Alex who is a culinary genius!) and a handy new key for special dietary requirements.

 -       Top Tips for making the most of student life including updated advice, new relevant chapters and wisdom from CAP.

 -       Stories from six new students who share from their own university experiences and tell of the radical encounter with Jesus that changed their lives forever.

 The book concludes with a ‘Find Out More’ section – pointing students on to where they can read through a gospel, ask their questions or pop along to a church or Christian Union. We are praying that our Father takes this new edition and blesses it, so that a new generation of students may investigate the good news of Jesus.


What is the most unique way you’ve heard the book being given away?

There is a brilliant story of a prayerful Aunty who sent a copy to her nephew – she was delighted to hear that he ‘walked into the kitchen one day to find his flat mate, head down, reading one of the testimonies while the Thai curry bubbled away on the stove!’

 A tiny Christian Union in London gave a copy to every one of the 2nd years at their ‘end of college’ service. At Festive, we are so moved by the courage that many young believers walk in. They are the ‘Daniels’ of today - resolved to walk with Jesus and show their peers that in Him is life – and Life to the full!

What was university life like for you?

 University was a season where my Heavenly Father, in His mercy – planted a very young Christian (I was saved shortly before from an unchurched background) into a place where I could grow, flourish and live in a new freedom in Him. He led me to a church that absolutely loved Jesus, the lost and the Bible. His word started to take hold of my heart and obedience started to follow. With that came an unquenchable desire to share the saving power of Christ with those around me. As a Creative Writing and Drama student this had its challenges, but there were some mind-blowing ways the Holy Spirit opened up doors to share the gospel through my course (writing in particular!), friendships and part-time job as a waitress at TGI Fridays! I am so grateful for the people who invested time, prayers and patience with me during those formative years. And for those friends who modelled what it was to walk with Jesus when I would have looked pretty wayward as an incoming fresher!

How would you encourage CUs to be using the book?

There are a whole host of ways CUs could make use of BBoT!

-       Pass two to every person in the CU – one to keep, one to give away to a non-Christian mate!

-       Get permission to run a leavers stall in a popular place – get a big board and write ‘what I’ll miss about college’ and ‘what I am looking forward to about uni’ so people can come and contribute to the stand. Give everyone a copy of the book as a gift from the CU with a can of baked beans!*

-       If you’re part of a university CU, you could get a couple of the BBoT outreach packs from 10ofthose and give away copies at the Fresher’s Fayre or leave gift-copies with goodies in every hall*!

What is your favourite way to eat beans?

On toast, with a generous dash of tabasco sauce.  

Or …and I know this is controversial, mix half a can of baked beans into the white sauce (once it is nice and thick!) when making macaroni cheese. It’s a game changer. (I thank my friend Suzannah for that!)

*Festive have some free sponsored copies of Beyond Beans on Toast for students to use as part of their college/sixth form outreach. Head to  to see if you qualify.

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