Challenge poverty? Aye we can!

European Union logo and The Scottish Government logo togetherChallenge Poverty Week is upon us! To mark it, we wanted to show how our Delivering Financial Inclusion programme, which is funded jointly by the European Social Fund and National Lottery players, is supporting the most vulnerable people across Scotland to improve their money management skills and reduce debt.

Financial worries are common in many households across Scotland, but can be particularly difficult for lone parents, people experiencing unemployment and those on low incomes.

Our programme helps to tackle poverty by supporting people with these money pressures in Argyll & Bute, Dundee, Inverclyde, Glasgow and North Ayrshire, by providing them with benefits and debt advice, money management skills, and fuel and energy consultations.

As it’s Challenge Poverty Week, we’d like to show how these services are working in practice by taking a closer look at how people have benefitted from the I:DEAS service, provided by Inverclyde Council and its delivery partners.

Providing support to people in Inverclyde is not only about improving their financial situation, but also about boosting their self-confidence and showing them what opportunities are out there:

Being a lone parent with a disability and experiencing a long period of unemployment not only affected Mary’s financial situation but also her mental wellbeing. She had severe debt and money management problems, and was made bankrupt over 15 years ago, and had low confidence as a result of feeling socially excluded.

However, thanks to her dedicated mentor from the I:DEAS service, she received assistance with her debt and day-to-day budgeting, which helped her to address her financial worries.

A collage of men and women receiving certificates for training they've completed successfully

Mary also found out about the opportunity to enrol on a variety of courses through the service (including on topics such as IT, caring, child health and counselling) and has enjoyed getting back into learning. She has performed well in the courses, which has boosted her confidence dramatically. As a result, Mary now volunteers at Barnardos and is thinking about her future career and education:

“I:DEAS has given me a lot of support mentally, financially, and also has given me the confidence to think for myself in regards to my future. It’s made me realise that there is a lot of opportunities out there, if I do the hard work.”

Helping people to sort their financial issues is also impacting their wellbeing and helping them get back into the local community:

John suffers from mental health issues, which impacted his ability to manage bills. He was referred to I:DEAS as his £8,500 of Council Tax debt was affecting him emotionally and socially – he was skipping social events, doctor appointments and reducing contact with friends and his support network.

John received a payment plan for his debt and was advised how to set up payments by himself. He has also been provided with budgeting advice and digital skills training, and has been exempted from ongoing liability to his Council Tax on mental health grounds.

Thanks to all of this support, John is now feeling more settled and secure. He goes out more often and is even considering volunteering in the future.

These are just two examples of how the Delivering Financial Inclusion programme is helping to tackle poverty across Scotland.

Challenge Poverty Week takes place on 1-7th of October and is aimed at raising awareness and highlighting activities which contribute to address poverty in Scotland. To follow the online conversation, use the hashtag #ChallengePoverty on social media.

*Names have been changed.

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