- As various support schemes implemented by the government are phased out, 2.6 million people are currently on Universal Credit or Job Seekers Allowance with unemployment set to rise to 3.5 million people.
- Through the support of Allchurches Trust – churches are being trained to deliver financial information and support to those made vulnerable by low pay, insecure work, new unemployment and high personal debt, helping them to make optimal financial choices at a critical point in their lives.
- The national £100,000 Allchurches grant will enable an expansion of the course from the Black Country into Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent and northern Shropshire, meaning hundreds of people receive COVID Cash Course training, and by passing on what they have learned, will benefit thousands of people.
A major expansion of Just Finance Foundation’s COVID Cash Course, which was codesigned with Transforming Communities Together and Capital Mass, is set to enable hundreds of churches and community organisations across the Black Country, Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent and northern Shropshire to deliver financial information and resources. This will help around 1,000 people across the West Midlands to tackle financial issues that have arisen due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Delivered through a train-the-trainer model, the course allows those working or volunteering with those affected in our communities to access relevant and up-to-date information, which they can use to support those navigating the rapidly changing financial world around them.
From outlining individual entitlements such as Universal Credit and charitable grants, to areas such as financial stress and how to successfully budget for the next few months; COVID Cash Course adopts a holistic approach to money management during this difficult period.
So far, over 140 community leaders and organisations in the Black Country (and 300 in the UK) have already been trained to deliver a COVID Cash Course. Feedback from those who have attended these courses has shown that although 80% of participants begin the course worried about their finances, 96% finish the course with a clear plan for the next few months and 74% agreed that their stress around money and finances was reduced following the course.
The Revd Teddy Siwila, Pastoral Minister in Methodist Wolverhampton Circuit, attended the course recently. He said: “The whole presentation was very educative and helpful… In such stressful times where people face challenges, the presentation is like light pointing to the right direction.”
Tim Carroll, Chairman of Allchurches Trust, said: “Our own recent research with over 600 churches has told us that churches think financial advice and debt support will be one of the big issues facing their community in the next few months, and even more of a need in a year’s time, when the true impact of the Coronavirus pandemic will be clearer.
“With this in mind, the COVID Cash Course will be invaluable, helping churches and other community organisations to respond to the needs of local people in a relevant and practical way, supporting the most vulnerable, who may not know where to turn at this challenging time.”
“We are proud to support the COVID Cash Course Training, helping Transforming Communities Together to expand its vital financial wellbeing work. It will give hope to many thousands of people by providing practical support to help them make the best decisions for themselves and their families in a rapidly changing financial landscape.”
Cassius Francis, Just Finance Development Worker for Transforming Communities Together said: “During these difficult times, it has been encouraging to co-develop and now deliver a course that is providing practical and tangible help to people across the Black Country. What sets this course apart, is providing the information that enables people to access free guidance and credible resources. Our share of this generous funding will allow us to continue to deliver in the Black Country and expand across Staffordshire and northern Shropshire.”