GAMH Debt and Money Advice Project
Our Debt and Money Advice Project is a partnership with Money Matters Govan and Parkhead Citizens Advice Bureau and is supported under MAW’s Stream 3 funding. The project was launched on 8th May 2014 with presentations from our project partners and funders. Notably we heard from some of our GAMH members who offered insight into the difficulties faced accessing money and debt advice and feedback on the positive outcomes of the GAMH financial inclusion supported referral model.
This project provides much needed flexible and creative access arrangements to skilled , experienced money and debt advisors for people with mental health problems and their carers. In addition the project aims to enhance the ability of people with mental health problems to develop sustainable skills to manage their own financial affairs. The project builds on the existing work and findings of our Financial Inclusion Development Project which has been funded since 2007 and has tested approaches and developed good practice to improve access to money advice services and raise awareness of the experiences of financial exclusion faced by mental health service users. The project also offers our partners training on mental health awareness and advice on how best to offer support to our service users .
Financial Inclusion sessions are integrated into existing support GAMH group sessions and include sessions on :
- how to manage your money better
- how to reducing outgoings by accessing energy efficiency and ‘Warm Homes Discount’ schemes
- Presentations on accessible financial resources such as Scotcash and Credit Unions.
Individual appointments can be made with the money advisors based at Parkhead CAB and Money Matters Govan. Appointments are flexible and these workers can arrange to meet with GAMH service users at GAMH community groups and participation forums.
To date as a result of this work 69% of GAMH service users said that they felt they were in a better financial situation.
One recent recipient of the service said: “I attended an opportunity to get debt advice. I now have a Credit Union account and feel more in control of my money”.
The Debt and Money Advice Project is funded until the end of March 2018 .
To access the project – Download the project leaflet
If you want further information on the project, please contact GAMH Head Office on 0141 552 5592.
Mental Health and Financial Inclusion Awareness is the Way Forward
A partnership of the North West Mental Health Development Group, North West ADG and the Healthier Wealthier Children initiative organised a half-day event on mental health and financial inclusion in October. The event aimed to raise awareness of significant current and imminent changes to welfare benefits, key mental health symptoms to look out for, and some initiatives to support people avoid or get out of fuel poverty. Healthier Wealthier Children is a ‘child poverty’ initiative in Glasgow City which supports pregnant women and families with young children and older children with special needs to maximise their income. The event was an ideal opportunity for us to highlight this initiative.
Sixty five people from 41 organisations gathered to hear three presentations: Colin McCormack, Head of Mental Health in the NW Sector, spoke about ‘Recovery Costs – Money and Mental Health’; Robert Hinds, Welfare Rights Officer, gave an overview of Benefits Reform; Marie Burns, Mental Health Financial Inclusion Project Co-ordinator, spoke about the project at the Glasgow Association for Mental Health; and two women who engage with GAMH spoke very powerfully about their money issues and how the GAMH project had helped them to overcome these.
The event staged several information stalls so that delegates could gather as much information as possible. There was a choice of three workshops on: Healthier Wealthier Children combined with a presentation on Fuel Poverty by G HEAT; what factors can contribute to mental health issues; and how mental health practitioners and others can support clients and patients in the migration from Incapacity Benefit to Employment Support Allowance. Delegates fed back in a short plenary session and we had some initial discussions about where we could go with this agenda.
The morning followed a simple formula – spreading important information and advice on the on-going economic challenge which we all face. The detailed and thoughtful feedback received suggested that significant actions would arise from the morning. We are delighted to hear that serveral organisations are already holding follow-up sessions.
If you would like to know more or receive a full or summary copy of the morning’s events and where we go from here, please contact Jan Boyle on 232 2092 or email Jan.Boyle@gcc.scot.nhs.uk
Watch this space!
Dorothy Morrison, North West Section Health Improvement Team
Changes to the benefit system
Representatives from the Glasgow ADGs (Area Development Groups) have come together to form an ADG Sub-group who are working closely together to ensure that the citizens of Glasgow are informed about the changes to the benefit system. The main aim of the group is to consider the most effective way of reaching those affected by the cuts to the benefits system. The group is keen to ensure that this information is spread as widely as possible across Glasgow. In order to mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable it is essential not only to make people aware of the changes but also, in a co-ordinated approach, ensure those who need more in-depth advice are able to receive it. Currently we are promoting the forthcoming change to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). Each month the group will focus on a different benefit change.
Anyone who may be affected by these changes will be encouraged to contact the GAIN helpline where they will be able to talk to someone directly who can advise them of how their personal circumstances may change and, if need be, direct them to a face to face adviser. For those who prefer to use the internet the GAIN website has updated links on the benefit changes.
If you feel your agency could help promote these messages we would be keen to hear from you. Perhaps you have a newsletter, website or some other way of disseminating information, if so we would be interested in speaking to you. Contact Christine Chalmers on 0141 287 9913 or email Christine.Chalmers@glasgow.gov.uk.
These changes will impact severely on the most vulnerable and we must ensure we do whatever we can to reach those most in need.
Gwynneth James, Chair of Joint ADG Welfare Reform Sub-group