Time certainly flies and in the world of social inclusion that is no different, I almost can’t believe it’s been three years since we were awarded funding by Comic Relief to support individuals with ‘Healthier Finances’. In that time, I’ve been humbled and moved to see the effect it’s had on individuals’ lives.
In today’s world of austerity and increasing debt, more people than ever are getting caught in the poverty trap, and many need help and support to make their first steps into better managing their money.
To help tackle this, and working with Online Centres, Money Advice Service and Citizens Advice, we curated the Money My Way portal on the Learn My Way website. Launched in Autumn 2015, it brought together the resources that were most appropriate for learners looking for help with managing their money and or in need of support dealing with a financial crisis.
17 Online Centres joined us over our 3 year journey, situated across areas of high poverty in Liverpool, Knowsley, Manchester, Hull and Nottingham. delivering one on one support and aiding access to resources according to individual learners’ needs.
In total, we supported:
Online Centre tutors to develop their knowledge, leaving a legacy of increased ability to provide locally relevant support for those in financial need
individuals to access tailored Money My Way learning who were supported directly in our Online Centres to manage their finances
learners to utilise resources available on the Money My Way portal to increase their knowledge and take their first steps to better managing their finances
We also believe delivery of Money My Way engaged in excess of 300 volunteers across the centres involved, improving the confidence of these volunteers to support people with financial capability.
In some instances, the funding to deliver Money My Way provided the only dedicated resource for our centres to undertake any money management work, adding huge value to the support they were able to support in their communities.
It’s been very humbling to hear the difference that our Online Centres have made to individual lives - Patrick, for example, struggled so much with debt during a period of unemployment that his already poor mental health suffered dramatically.
Overcoming debt and despondency to help others
"To be honest, I don’t like to think about what would have happened if I hadn’t have got the help I needed. I wasn’t in a great place anyway so I’m sure getting harassed by debt collectors would have sent me spiralling somewhere else. I suppose the best way of putting it is that I wouldn’t be where I am now. KCLC and the help I received here was a lifesaver.” Patrick Barrett, Volunteer, Kensington Community Learning Centre
The more a community centre can do, the better it can serve the community. The better they can help people, the more likely those people are to come back when they need help again. This is especially important for financial advice because it requires trust.
We know that learners are more likely to use the internet to manage their money if they have help to do it for the first time. It is not enough to teach someone about using the internet for shopping, banking, and other transactions. Good Things Foundation has been advocating for the importance of assisted digital in financial capability, and Money My Way has been central to the way in which we have been seeding this practice. Staff at Kensington Community Learning Centre, based in Liverpool, have experienced first hand the massive demand and need for financial capability interventions in the area and the effect that Money My Way has had on beneficiaries.
We’re very proud of this particular project and the difference it has made to individuals lives, it’s been a privilege supporting our centres to do the amazing work that they do and are happy with the legacy we can provide thanks to funding from Comic Relief, as the Money My Way resources will remain freely available for anyone to use.
One of our key priorities going forward in Social Inclusion will be increasing our work in the area of financial capability and highlighting the need of the poorest in society from being unfairly penalised. If you have any questions regarding Financial Capability or would like to work with us to achieve our aims then please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.