In response to the growing issue of debt in the Newham area and with the support of Barclays, Community Links has developed the ‘Tackling Debt in East London’ programme, which has been:
– Educating and empowering people of all ages, in many different situations, with the skills to take control of their finances and avoid getting into debt.
– Supporting those already caught in the negative spiral of debt through a drop in debt service running from Community Links.
– Building the capacity of other community organisations in East London to offer debt advice to vulnerable clients.
– reached 1,500 people through the money management workshops. Attendees have fed back what they will do differently in future as a result:
“Spend wisely, save more money, shop less” (Client, into-employment programme)
“Save money by reducing the amount of times I eat chicken and chips.” (Year 10 pupil)
– provided debt advice to 109 people in crisis. £1,632,055 of total debt has been dealt with to date, with £828,808 written off. We have also advised clients on how to better manage their finances in the future.
– empowered 13 new debt advisors at other community organisations.
Barclays’ support is enabling us to deliver both preventative and crisis support. As an organisation which has been working in the Newham area for 35 years, Community Links has the necessary local networks to reach a wide range of different groups – school children, the elderly, those for whom English isn’t a first language, people with mental health issues, unemployed young people, homeless people etc.
The Government focuses on raising young people’s financial literacy levels; we believe this programme is the first time money management sessions of this type have been taken out into the community for adults as well.[/one_half_last]
Due to the diverse community groups we are reaching with the money management sessions, our trainers never know what they are walking into when they attend a workshop. Sometimes attendees can have very little English, or a group of young people can be particularly difficult to engage or have issues with their literacy and numeracy meaning the exercises and materials the trainers have prepared for them may no longer be relevant. Our trainers have learned to think on their feet and improvise, adapting session content and delivery to ensure everyone can join in and gain something positive from the experience.
What often has the greatest impact at the money management sessions is getting participants to consider something they like and its costs over the course of a year – from daily chocolate bars to cigarettes. Around two thirds feed back that seeing how easily costs escalate has made them consider where they can make savings.
The input of volunteers from Barclays at the money management sessions in schools has proved to be hugely beneficial. Pupils are interested to learn about the volunteer’s roles at the bank, and meeting professional people helps to broaden their horizons and raise their aspirations. [/one_half_last]
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Anna Mothes, Community Links Corporate Partners Manager