10 April 2012
Money has never been plentiful in our community; often buying anything from furniture to a new uniform for the school year has meant buying from catalogues, hire purchase stores and borrowing from the door step lenders. Juggling paying off different bills each week and borrowing from one lender to pay back another has become a way of life for many.
But, as times have got tougher these past three years we have seen more and more people who just can't manage to keep all the balls in the air at once. Many people have lost their job or lost hours, the cost of gas, electricity and petrol have raced ahead, whilst wages and benefit rates have lagged behind.
In the past year we have seen a huge increase in people coming to our advice service with mounting debts, many at their wits end, not knowing where to begin and how to start to put things back together. Our team work with people, often for weeks and months, helping them to untangle the web of debts and payments, negotiating with the creditors for manageable repayment levels and, where it is the best option, helping clients to get their debts written off so they can make a fresh start.
In the face of such growing financial difficulties facing local residents we are running Money Balance and Money Trainers, two community projects that support people to manage their money and put small amounts of savings aside to help them through the year. We have set up Money Trainer savings groups that are working on how to plan meals and shop and cook more economically. With the weather getting warmer our Money Trainers are just about to launch a food growing project that will help people to grow some of their own food. And as the school holidays come the Money Trainers will be helping mums and dads to organise activities and outings in London for their children that won't break the weekly budget.
As winter draws to a close so arrive the heaviest gas bills of the year, (oooch!). The Bromley by Bow Centre and Toynbee Hall East End Energy Fit teams are here to support people with difficulties they may face with arrears for gas, electricity and water. They can also help people who are in hardship to apply for grants for household furniture such as beds, cookers, washing machines and refrigerators.
The Money Trainers have been working with a group of young women who have received a grant of £500 to run an activity which encourages people to think differently about money management. On International Women's Day, the group set up a Beauty Parlour which showed local women how to make their own beauty products from household ingredients (pictured). The project has been selected for the Money for Life Challenge national finals at Wembley Stadium on the 26th April to present to a panel of judges. If you would like to vote for the project please do so here the more votes the group receive the better their chances of winning.
If you, or someone you know is in financial difficulties it is important to get professional help as soon as possible. The Bromley by Bow Centre has a number of free, professional and confidential advice and money support options that can help people sort out their finances.
Please contact the Bromley by Bow Centre Advice Service on:
020 0709 9737 | email@example.com | www.bbbc.org.uk
We are grateful to our funders for making our vital financial advice and literacy support possible
Money Balance – generously funded by Investec
Money Trainers – generously funded by Britannia and Friends Provident
East End Energy Fit – generously funded by British Gas Energy Fit and EDF Energy