Meeting Alison, the Financial Capability Coach, from the Peasholme Charity was an inspiring experience. She runs the ‘My Money, My Life’ scheme and offers anyone over 18 within the City of York council boundary support on financial matters alongside teaching them skills around managing their money.
“Most people come to me in crisis.
There has been some sort of financial change in their life, a relationship breakdown for example, the loss of a job, a change in their benefit. We help anyone in financial difficulties.
Often they don’t have a good support network themselves, they might have health issues or lack financial resources, like savings, so when there is a big change in their life, they become vulnerable.”
Alison is passionate about navigating through the benefit system, particularly universal credit, so she can help people through the complexities of the new system.
An assessment of need is done as soon as a referral is made which might involve signposting the individual to the likes of Age UK or the Citizens Advice Bureau, it might be a telephone conversation or it might lead to a first meeting.
As well as taking self referrals and referrals from York Housing Association, Council Landlords and Social Services, Alison also does monthly drops in at Kyra, York Mind, Bell Farm Social Hall and Foxwood Community Centre, supporting as many people as possible.
The process Alison goes through involves first looking at the person’s income and whether they are missing out on any benefits. She then looks at their budget and how they pay for, and prioritise, their bills and food.
She follows this by looking into the best options for making payments and supports people to pick the best deals for mobile phone contracts for example, gas and electricity suppliers and analysing food shopping, tobacco and drinking habits and costs.
Everyone is different. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, Alison works with with everyone as an individual, advising them on their particular circumstance.
Ultimately the scheme supports people through the process of understanding their finances and how they can manage them more effectively. The service encourages people to be more independent, building up their confidence, so they can put the skills they have learnt into practice to manage their money better themselves.
Demand is high in York. Alison helped over 100 people during the last financial year and she is the only Financial Capability Coach the charity has. But there are many more people in the city who would benefit from the ‘My Money, My Life’ scheme.
If you support people who might need the type of support the Peasholme Charity can offer, get in touch directly on 01904 466866.
What an amazing service.