Funding received in 2010/11 from the Community Grants Programme, UnLtd, and the Big Lottery ‘Awards for All’ programme, enabled Smart Savings to help 76 people who were struggling with their personal finances and debt through one-to-one debt advice and basic money management courses. The funding also enabled Smart Savings to start developing innovative courses that would appeal to a wider audience, and evidence a number of positive outcomes in later years.
In early 2011 Smart Savings was awarded accreditation from the Institute of Leadership and Community Management and began delivering accredited courses in partnership with Penwith Community Development Trust. An Innovation Grant and funding from the Britannia Foundation supported the company in delivering ‘Money Skills’ courses across Cornwall. Although the courses focussed on personal finances, enhancing the self-confidence and esteem of participants was an integral part of the support offered. Smart Savings also tackled child poverty with an award from the Church Urban Fund by supporting low income families with their finances and numeracy, and delivering advanced financial literacy training to volunteers in churches and food banks who work with vulnerable adults in debt.
With funding from the Jobcentre Plus Cornwall Works Programme in 2011, Smart Savings delivered a ‘Money Skills for Retail’ Project. This project offered courses to unemployed people aged 50+ to prepare for employment in the retail sector. These courses led to more than half the participants finding employment and going into voluntary work. That high success rate meant that 20 more courses across Devon and Cornwall received mainstream funding through Jobcentre Plus with investment from the District Manager’s Flexible Support Fund. The new project in 2013 ‘Master classes in Retail’ was offered to 200 unemployed people across Cornwall and Devon. The master classes in retail were a huge success, particularly in Liskeard where a 100% success rate into employment was achieved.
In 2012/2013 Smart Savings helped in excess of 20 people with mental health problems to sustain their personal finances with an innovative project ‘The Art of Money Skills’, funded by the Reaching Communities Big Lottery Fund. The Art of Money Skills was a one year pilot project to help people experiencing poor mental health to improve the management of their personal finances by offering free workshops that used creativity to tackle the subject of money. Creative sessions explored financial subjects using art, felt making, print making, 3D design, textiles, and money games. The project had a significant positive impact on the individuals supported and all the stakeholders of the project. The project helped to build confidence about managing money; improve people’s sense of well-being; reduce the stress people felt about their debts and feel more independent about their financial affairs. Critically the project made a telling impact on reducing people’s debts. Participants’ debt levels decreased by, on average, 46%. Read the external evaluation report for the project.
Smart Savings continues to grow and design innovative projects that support vulnerable adults, who would not be able to pay for the services offered. To keep up to date with the latest projects and developments, follow Jane on Twitter and visit our blog page.