Updated: Aug 14, 2019
We caught up with participants and staff at a Community Money Mentors programme run by Money A+E in Plaistow, east London.
The programme aims to support individuals to take control of their finances – and in the process, to make transformative changes in other areas of their lives.
Participants first set ‘money goals’: anything from paying for a family birthday to buying a house.
They then spend time learning about how to get there. Topics explored in depth include making a balance sheet, prioritising different expenditure and how to save.
This knowledge is put to the test in the ‘mentoring’ section of the course, where the participants work in pairs to support and advise each other on their journey.
This time, the course was delivered in Plaistow South, in east London. The area has been identified as deprived, with numbers of children living in poverty well higher than the average of one in three.
Individual and community transformation
When we spoke to course participants Jaz and Aida, Jaz told us that ‘[it feels] brilliant, knowing that I can actually achieve all the things I want to achieve.’
She told us that she had completed her short-term money goal of paying for her daughter’s first birthday and blessing. Now she is looking to longer-term goals of starting a business and buying a house.
Many individuals who attend the course tell us that they pass on their new knowledge to their families and communites, and Aida is no exception.
She is supporting her son to save for university, and teaching him the importance of ‘seeing the bigger picture in the future, not just living for today. Tomorrow can happen any day.’
An approach that works for all income levels
The course is built around the 4-Step Process (as shown below) championed by Money A+E. This is accompanied by jargon-busting information on different types of saving and credit.
The Process has been designed to help individuals at all income levels – the focus being less about the size of the figures you are dealing with, and more about giving your finances attention on a regular basis.
Participants are also encouraged to trust in the power of regular savings.
As Frederick, the course leader, puts it, ‘You might think, what’s £5 a week? It’s not that much…But if you multiply it by 52, it becomes £260.’
The power of financial confidence
Frederick also sees dramatic changes in people’s self-esteem as he teaches. This is the aspect of his work that he finds most satisfying.
He describes 'people coming in, sometimes feeling depressed, feeling hopeless, or just ‘I can’t do it.''
'And at the end of the course, becoming more confident…people say, not only regarding my finances, but on other aspects of my life as well.’