Home-Start Medway is excited to announce it has been awarded Big Lottery Funding to support families in Medway to improve their Financial Situation. The programme called Financial Fitness has been running as a pilot with the support of mhs homes and Santander. Due to the success of the project, it can now be rolled out across Medway to support more families wanting to get their finances in shape, thanks to the award from the Big Lottery Fund.
Gill Valentine, Scheme Manager at Home-Start Medway said, ‘This is a fantastic opportunity for us.. We have been supporting families with emotional and practical help for nearly thirty years through volunteer home visiting. However we have identified from our supported families that the financial demands placed on families can have a huge impact on the ability to cope day to day. The Financial Fitness Programme enables us to offer another avenue of support to our families, improving their confidence, knowledge and understanding, as well as enabling and supporting these families to take control. Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund we will be able to continue and expand this service to support more families across Medway.’
Project Lead, Anna Costello-Mannering says, ‘The project came about from our existing family support work; we ask families how they cope in all aspects of parenting and finances were the main causes of stress and worry. The programme allows us to help families to reduce this stress and improve their relationships by helping them get their finances in order. Some parents often face financial difficulties, this could be due to a number of reasons such as reduced income after a new baby, the increased and unpredictable spending involved in family life or issues such as post-natal depression or mental health conditions. Many of our service users also face benefit caps therefore it is vital to understand the importance of budgeting as the implementation of Universal Credit will come in soon for families.
Support can be offered to parents who have children under the age of 5 who live anywhere in Medway and is completely free of charge. Appointments will be held at local venues such as Children’s Centres or the Home-Start office in central Gillingham. Specially trained volunteers work with families to achieve their own individual outcomes.
Sarah one of Home-Start’s Financial Fitness Volunteers reports ‘I have seen first-hand the difference it can make from meeting a parent scared and in hardship, not even able to face opening their bills and supporting them to the point where they can come in and make phone calls to resolve issues, opening their letters and making notes and being able to amend their own budget when their finances change. It gives them the confidence and ability to know they can manage their own finances moving forward, this really is life changing for some parents.’
Activities as simple as creating a budget will be introduced to ensure families are making best use of their income. The project will look at reducing expenditure and maximising income and checking if families are receiving the correct benefits, discussing outgoings etc. Families with debt issues are supported to get a clear picture of their situation and identify priority debts; where specialist debt advice is needed referrals are made to partnership agencies who can offer formal debt solutions.
Anyone interested in accessing support for themselves or professionals wanting to refer a family can contact us. This number can also be used for anyone interested in finding out about the fantastic volunteering opportunities available at Home-Start Medway.