Citizen’s Advice North Hertfordshire branch has received a grant of £100K from Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation to pioneer a money advice programme tailored to the needs of individuals and families in Letchworth.
The Letchworth Financial Health Project will provide three elements of money advice to help residents:
- Personalised debt advice to include both priority and non-priority debt and guidance on Debt Relief Orders.
- Advice on how to manage income, including benefit checks, applying for benefits, mandatory reconsiderations and preparatory work for appeals.
- Opportunities to learn about money management training in group settings and one to one appointments.
This grant has been awarded to Citizen’s Advice so they can run the programme for 3 years and will use a variety of ways to keep in touch with those taking part. Participants can also change the way they keep in touch as they progress through the programme. At the moment, the team are meeting people via video calls, telephone, email and through social media applications such as Facebook and WhatsApp. When restrictions allow, the Citizen’s Advice office on Station Road will be open for face-to-face appointments and they will make home visits to those with limited mobility. As the programme develops, there are plans to meet with clients in the community.
Beth Morris, project manager for the Letchworth Financial Health Project, said: “We are so pleased to be able to start this project at such a key time during the pandemic when financial issues are weighing heavy on so many people’s minds. Alongside providing financial education, support and wellbeing to our community, we will also be working with partners in Letchworth to identify new and innovative ways of enabling people to feel confident about money matters and dealing with debt.
“We have a new team of specialist advisers ready to assist with individual confidential advice. Also, later in the year we will be running a series of community workshops and sharing with residents’ ways they can reduce their debts, control spending, find the best deals when shopping to maximise income and improve mental and physical wellbeing. We hope to return to our pitch in the Garden Square Shopping Centre when restrictions are lifted, to chat and offer advice to people when they visit the town centre.”
Citizens Advice North Herts discovered that in 2020, Letchworth food bank usage was higher than in previous years and pensioner poverty was rising, suggesting several Letchworth residents were likely to be experiencing financial issues impacting their daily life. Citizen’s Advice shared their findings with the foundation and both organisations committed to work together to address the key issues.
Alastair Stewart, Head of Charitable Projects and Partnerships said: “The pandemic has impacted on people’s income and seeing the statistics on Letchworth made us realise that we needed to help Citizens Advice to carry out this work. Citizens Advice has built up a great deal of knowledge and expertise supporting people with money matters. We are really pleased to be working with them to enable residents who may have money worries or financial troubles to gain help and advice."
If you need advice and support with debt or benefits, call 01462 688014 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.