Sovereign Housing Association emphasizes financial support to clients during “Talk Money Week”
The Sovereign Housing Association has launched a £ 150,000 fund to help clients buy all kinds of items and services, from white goods to work clothes.
The fund – managed with support provider Charis – opened earlier this year and has eight separate pots of money available to those facing financial difficulties, especially those impacting the personal development.
Kimberley Barrow, Head of Money and Digital for Sovereign, said: “It is well known that money problems often make people’s mental health worse. The reverse is also true – with studies showing that people with mental health problems are three and a half times more likely to be in debt than those without.
“We know people are feeling the pinch right now, so these grants are designed to tackle areas where a seemingly minor problem could take finances out of hand. For example, we can finance a new freezer or a new stove, we can finance child care when someone goes for an interview. We can fund equipment that gets people online or helps them start their own businesses. “
The ruler pledged at the start of the pandemic that no one would lose their home due to the impacts of Covid-19 and has supported more than 100 people since April through their money and debt counseling services, with 57 people applying for funding for white goods. A separate fund also provides households with access to emergency aid vouchers that can be spent on food, toys or other household items.
Kimberley added: “We urge all of our customers who are concerned about their money to contact our Income Support Agents through social media or our contact center number, 0300 5000 926.”
Kimberley Barrow, Head of Money and Digital said,
“When my fridge freezer broke it was quite inconvenient. I lost the food that went out and we had to order a few take out to get us through the week. Fortunately, when I got on the internet, I managed to find a used one fairly close to home. I got in my van and went to fetchit, solve my problem within a week.
But for some of our clients, that just isn’t an option. They do not have the money or the savings to buy new and they do not have easy access to the means of transport to collect second-hand goods. They may not even have the digital skills to search online for prelliked articles.
But is it so bad not to have a fridge-freezer?
Well, in fact the answer is yes. A ‘Turn to Us’ report in January 2020 estimated that not having a fridge-freezer can cost the average household £ 1,365 a year. Not having an oven can cost up to £ 2,100 a year.
What may seem like replaceable commodities, or boring necessities to many of us, may seem like an insurmountable disaster for others, with people turning to loans or high interest repayment programs for simply keep their house running.
Problems like this are the reason why, over the past year, we have been developing Sovereign’s “Silver” offering alongside a digital support program. In order to maximize our impact, we found expert partners in the field and worked with them to create a number of different offerings.
We have already funded 57 household appliances and the program has only been running for a few months. It shows us how necessary it is and how much it means to people. One of our customers on the Isle of Wight told me, “You have no idea how thrilled we are to have our new fridge freezer – now go get the food to fill it up! “
This white goods grant is part of our partnership with Charis, where eight different fundraising pots are available. Charis also offers fuel vouchers for customers with a prepaid meter so they can top up their gas or electricity and our partnership with Pocket Power guides people to find the best deals on a multitude of household bills such as energy, broadband or cell phones and also helps them access discounts.
One client, Lizzie, was so worried about telling us about arrears that she was left without gas in her home for over a year. One of our rental support advisors offered a fuel voucher and then worked with his energy supplier to clear the accumulated arrears from his gas account. This simple voucher and this offer of help was enough for Lizzie to talk to us. She is now heating her house and working with us to track the rent payment.
Likewise, our aid fund offers a voucher for Tesco, Asda or Amazon for our customers who have experienced a change of circumstances, such as job loss or family bereavement. These can be used to purchase household items or food – whatever they need to get through that particular moment.
While it can be the difference between making or breaking, we don’t just want to offer emergency assistance. We want to support and advise you in the long term. Our offer with We are Digital offers individual training, tailor-made for each client, offering support in budgeting and making their money profitable. Payplan also provides independent money and debt advice, helping with both short term advice and longer term debt solutions.
We also strive to connect our clients with our other teams who can help them, such as our Employment & Training team – we have so much to offer. We still have a lot to do and will continue to develop and improve our offering. We’re currently exploring what we can do with furniture, rugs, and finance, among other areas. I would therefore like to hear from all those who have found innovative solutions in these areas.
Our “money counts” offer is not about giving handouts or trying to find a short-term solution. We realize that sometimes you can’t think of longer term, if you don’t know how you’re going to feed your family or heat your home this week. This is why we are helping now, to enable “then”.