Updated: Dec 10, 2021
Story written by Asma - one of our Money Mentors graduates.
Asma Haq is a Chemical Engineer turned social worker. She engages and integrates the Asian Muslim community of Marks Gate. She also runs Marks Gate Relief Project which provides philanthropic services to needy families in and around Marks Gate.
When I first started my Level 1 course with Money Mentors, I thought it would be the same boring old stuff about the 50/30/20 budget rule. I didn’t see how it could benefit me as a charity worker, and my beneficiaries who were stuck in a never-ending cycle of poverty.
"By then, I was feeding generations of multi-ethnic minority communities who lived off a small stipend given to them by the council. They were refugees, asylum seekers, families in shelters, and victims of domestic violence. I was mostly operating in Marks Gate which was known as one of the most deprived areas in London. The council was pouring in funding here to support and uplift the community. Families in Marks Gate had on average 6-8 persons to feed daily; two adults and children of all ages. These families kept their heating off in winters to save on electricity bills and did the washing up in a bucket to save on water bills. My job was to supply them with warm, cosy blankets before the onset of the harsh winter, and enough food to keep the families going throughout the year.
I didn’t see how Money Mentors could help, knowing well that there is no magic wand to eliminate poverty.
I was wrong!
What started as a five-week inspirational workshop with Money Mentors, ended up into a life-changing, transformational and empowering journey into money advice and education.
In these five weeks, our Money Mentors Nadine, Frederick, and Tanzila have completely changed the way we looked at money. We became aware of benefits and grant schemes that we never knew existed. Families that I so earnestly supported came down to me asking for their water bills to be halved. Aunty Swaliha had the biggest smile on her face because she was able to shop from Too Good to Go. Ladies were talking about shopping from Aklu Plaza (formerly Debenhams in Romford) because they were giving out 100 free fish daily as part of their inaugural ceremony. Marks Gate was buzzing! Everybody had a story to tell about how they saved money today. Everybody was saving up to achieve their money goals!
Very soon I had my beneficiaries benefitting from the Warm Home Discount. Nearly every day I signed posting someone or the other from the community to access Money A+E’s money advice service.
The best thing was that by the end of these five weeks, each one of us had managed to save up at least 15% of our short-term money goal.
Aunty Swaliha started making money by selling her famous onion bhajis, and I was able to set up and promote her business by printing posters and registering her for ESOL classes so she could communicate better with her customers. We are now discussing setting up Aunty Swaliha’s onion bhajis in a local Christmas Market. We are all buzzing with ideas to save up and treat ourselves to better futures!
Thank you, Money A+E, for your love and support. I can only imagine how many lives you have changed over the past years.
Money Mentors North Meets South in Marks Gate 2021.