Money Champions Have Positive Impact on Mental Wellbeing
Advice NI launched an evaluation report assessing whether a training and referrals based intervention could have a positive impact
The project, given the title ‘Managing Chang£’ by participants, was funded by the Money Advice Service (MAS) as part of its ‘What Works’ fund. What Works focused on building evidence of the types of interventions that can make a measurable difference to people’s ability to manage their money (financial capability). Across the UK, 58 projects have been undertaken. Three of these were based in NI and two of the three were delivered by Advice NI.
Advice NI worked in collaboration on the project with Inspire Mental Health. The intervention provided money management training to Inspire service users from wellbeing, supported living and floating support services, and trained a group of Inspire staff and volunteers as ‘Money Champions’. Once trained, the ‘Money Champions’ were able to provide one to one support to service users with their money issues and support them to access advice services.
The project worked in Inspire services across NI and trained a total of 114 Inspire service users in money management and 35 Inspire staff and volunteers as Money Champions. Money Champions were equipped with a toolkit to support their work with service users and had access to online resources on a section of the Advice NI website.
For service users who took part, the intervention produced a 21% reduction in worry about their money situation; a 17% reduction in stress and anxiety caused by money management; a 19% reduction in stress and anxiety caused by debt and a 10% reduction in stress and anxiety caused by Welfare Reform. In addition, they reported a range of improvements in their knowledge, skills and confidence around managing their money, and also initiated positive changes to their financial management behaviours, such as saving and keeping track of spending.
The launch of the report at The Long Gallery at Stormont was sponsored by M.L.A.s Mark H. Durkan, Chair of Stormont’s All-Party Group on Mental Health, Robbie Butler, Vice Chair of the All-Party Group, and Alex Maskey, Member of the All-Party Group. Robbie Butler and Alex Maskey both spoke at the event about the importance of supporting those with mental health issues, especially during this very difficult period of Welfare Reform. Advice NI’s CEO Bob Stronge, Billy Murphy, Inspire Director of Mental Health and Janine Maher from the Money Advice Service also spoke about the importance of the findings that were presented by Aodhan O’Donnell from Insight Solutions, the project evaluator.
The event was well-attended by project participants. The highlight was the launch of three video case studies from the project that will be available shortly on the Advice NI website. One project participant who was featured in the videos, Brian Brown, said, “It was a good project. I enjoyed doing it and was very glad to do it if it helps other people. Before I went to the training I was trying to hide from debt. I talked to my money champion and he got me to go to an advice centre… and I was able to get rid of my debt and to buy a new suite for my flat. We sat down and worked on my budgeting: what was coming in, what was going out, and what I could afford… and now I am proud of myself because I was able to do it myself. My mental health has improved and, from I got my debt sorted out, I’m able to go about with my head held high.”
An overview of the report along with its full text are available to read on the MAS What Works hub now at: https://www.fincap.org.uk/document/WwLiYyQAACUA2cXn/managing-chang...what-works
Advice NI has also produced an infographic summarising the report findings which is available to view at: https://www.adviceni.net/sites/default/files/publications/managing_change_infographic_final.pdf
Left to right: Janine Maher, MAS; Robbie Butler (UUP) MLA; Bob Stronge, CEO Advice NI; Pam Cameron (DUP) MLA; Miles Debrah, MAS attending the Managing Chang£ launch.
Left to right: MLA Alex Maskey (Sinn Fein), Michele Smyth (Age NI), Wendy Cooke and Billy Smallwood (Inspire), Louisa McKee, Emma Murphy, Bob Stronge (Advice NI), Billy Murphy and Anne Clarke (Inspire), Aodhan O’Donnell (Insight Solutions), Janine Maher and Miles Debrah (MAS), Brian Brown (Inspire) and Debi Madden (Advice NI).