Fighting back against COVID-19 - a financial lifeline in a time of crisis

19 MAY 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the economy; with jobs lost, more than two million applying for Universal Credit, and freelancers without work. With the support of Allchurches Trust, the Just Finance Foundation is working with church and charity partners to increase its support for families in financial distress in these uncertain times.

In 2019, Allchurches Trust awarded Just Finance Foundation a grant of £250,000 to fund the expansion of its innovative LifeSavers programme - an educational scheme teaching children valuable skills to manage money effectively. Facing a future of growing debt and sky rocketing living costs, LifeSavers offers children a ‘piggy’ bank of knowledge to help prepare them for later life, boosting their financial resilience.
 
Before the Coronavirus lockdown, JFF was progressing exciting expansion opportunities for LifeSavers, reaching out to 40 schools across Nottinghamshire and Wiltshire. In preparation for a temporary pause, they updated their online resources and prepared assets for presenting to trainee teachers - emphasising the importance of early Financial Education. LifeSavers is also continuing to provide daily activities through their website and social media for families to access during lockdown.
 
However, with schools closed to all but the children of key workers and so many struggling to make ends meet, their focus has now shifted to support people in immediate crisis.
 
JFF has, therefore, temporarily deployed LifeSavers staff, funded by the Allchurches’ grant, as a frontline resource for families facing financial struggles. 

A helpful hub of financial resources
 
Within one day of national lockdown, JFF had launched its Coronavirus Help Hub, an invaluable resource providing the latest information and advice for people facing financial uncertainty.
 
The hub is regularly updated to provide the latest government guidance and holds basic information as well as links to expert websites. The help hub is a treasure trove of knowledge, covering key themes such as Mortgages, Universal Credit, Sick Pay and Debt. Over 2,000 visitors have accessed the help hub since lockdown started. 

A ‘cash’ course in financial help 
 
Offering a more hands on approach, JFF has also developed a COVID Cash Course that can be delivered online. A trailblazing training programme, the course equips community leaders and organisations to help people facing financial hardship to build a brighter future.
 
JFF are working in partnership with the Together Network – initially Together Newcastle, Transforming Communities Together (Black Country), Together LiverpoolTransforming Notts and Capital Mass (London) - to roll out the course across England. The training will give leaders the confidence to deliver financial capability information to the community, ensuring individuals and families understand what help they are entitled to and how they can access support.
 
So far, 100% of course participants have found the sessions useful, and 92% of those delivering the course believe it has increased their ability to support the community at this uncertain time.
Women read from a booklet
Sarah Wallace, Programme Director for Just Finance Foundation, said: “The government has been quick to introduce schemes to support people through the current situation, but it is a complex and ever changing picture that has left some people overwhelmed or struggling to understand what is available to them. 
 
“The course allows those working or volunteering with the most vulnerable people in our communities to access information in plain language, so they can help their peers navigate the rapidly changing financial world around them.”
 
Jeremy Noles, Grants and Relationships Manager for Allchurches Trust, said: “Allchurches is proud to fund the expansion of the Lifesavers programme, which will help build the financial knowledge and resilience of the next generation in the years ahead.
 
“It is right, however, that with schools closed to the majority of pupils, the Just Finance Foundation is directing its support where it is needed most. We’re delighted that the staff appointed to support the expansion of the LifeSavers programme are now playing such a crucial role in providing financial support for families in crisis in these uncertain times.”
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