The Importance of Third Sector Organisations Working Together to Fill the Gaps
In an age when some of society’s most entrenched taboos are being eradicated, it seems that one is proving particularly hard to shift: Many people feel a strong social stigma associated with having financial difficulties.
This year, the Money Advice Service partnered with the Behavioural Insights Team to test 17 ideas to tackle this hard to shift taboo. This think tank, aptly named The Financial Capability Lab, found that 1 in 4 households in the UK are ‘financially squeezed’ and are especially vulnerable to even small changes to financial circumstances. Equally worrying is under half of those in need miss out on free help and support, such as publicly provided, free financial guidance services.
Overcoming this stigma and signposting people to the right services is something The Care Workers’ Charity deals with daily. In the light of the fact that council budgets have been cut by 40% since 2010 and thresholds for people to meet eligibility criteria for statutory services have been raised, charities and non-profit organisations are under an increasing pressure find ways to fill the gaps. With 65% of respondents reporting an increase in demand for their services in a recent survey published by the Institute of Fundraising, it is even more important that charities work together to raise the voices of communities and ensure support for the services they need.
With Welfare Reform and services being cut back for people in financial difficulty it was really positive for The Care Workers’ Charity to fill this gap and help my client who was in mitigating circumstances.
Libby Tucker, Money Advisor, United Welsh
From rising demand and ongoing austerity to dwindling grants, the challenges facing small charities are considerable. However, small sized charities can adapt and evolve alongside the changing external environment. Further, they are well placed to understand the needs and wants of their beneficiary population and transform learnings into fresh solutions that can address key social problems.
An underlying financial fragility can often mean that an unexpected financial shock can have seismic repercussions on ordinary, working families. Of the financially squeezed care workers that do have money set aside, the average savings amount is less than £600. How can we encourage people to build up a savings buffer to withstand financial shocks? How can we encourage people to seek financial advice and guidance? How can we help people to take control of their spending and how they choose, use and repay credit? In around 6 out of 10 of the financial events experienced by the financially squeezed in 2016, people didn’t seek out help and guidance that was available. This means 3.2 million financially squeezed adults in the UK face excessive interest charges or problem debt as a result of making low repayments.
In the longer term, we need to understand more about the underlying issues facing the care workers we help. Issues facing our beneficiary population are deeply structural and giving people one off grants will by no means solve food poverty, cuts in welfare provision or unaffordable housing. However, the charity must not forget its crucial role in alleviating immediate need. To ensure our grants are more than a transaction, it is pertinent that The Care Workers’ Charity works closely with other organisations which address the embedded complexities in the lives of our beneficiaries.
The Care Workers’ Charity’s grant giving service has created a unique opportunity to work with third party organisations who are, themselves, unable to provide direct financial assistance to Britain’s care workers. When third party organisations support and refer care workers to our grant service, the synergy of our combined efforts means we can offer mutual support to vulnerable individuals. We recently awarded a grant to Daniel* who had been supported by West London Mission to complete an application form, an organisation which empowers people affected by homelessness and trauma through a network of frontline support staff.
We work with many people who are struggling financially and often with physical and mental health issues, too. It is wonderful to come across organisations like The Care Workers’ Charity which can offer quick, relevant and effective help to workers and former workers in your sector. It really was life changing for my client and helped him work towards reconciling his family.
Fiona Murray, Financial Resilience Worker at West London Mission (WLM)
Collaborating with other organisations in this way enables us to improve our reach and increase our capacity so we can effectively meet the needs of care workers who have fallen upon hardship. When we combine efforts with third party organisations to support individuals, The Care Workers’ Charity deepens its positive impact.
It is extremely important for organisations such as Abertay Housing and The Care Workers’ Charity to work together when supporting clients. More so now than ever before Housing Associations are much more than ‘just keeping a roof over a tenant’s head’, it’s about supporting those tenants that perhaps require support in many different areas in order to sustain and manage their tenancy. I was really impressed with how easy it was to apply for this grant and thank you for contacting me quickly to inform me of the decision for Emily’s grant, it eased a lot of the pressure.
Clare Talbot, Abertay Housing Association
We are proud to have formed a partnership with Macmillan, where care workers who are being supported by Macmillan throughout their diagnosis can be awarded an additional grant from The Care Workers’ Charity in a timely fashion. In June/July alone, we awarded 5 people with grants through this partnership mechanism, helping pay towards travel expenses to hospital, household items and post-surgery clothing.
We look forward to working more closely in partnership with other organisations across the sectors to develop holistic responses to care workers in need The Care Workers’ Charity is a small organisation amidst one of the largest workforces in the UK and partnering with other organisations could lead to significant growth in terms of people we can help.
For example, The Care Workers’ Charity has a key role in helping care workers to engage with debt advise early and partnering with a reputable debt charity could reduce the harm debt can cause. StepChange estimates that a person’s debt can increase by an average of £2,300 in just six months if charges and interest continue to be added.
With an ambition to tackling financial hardship with a preventative approach, The Care Workers’ Charity is making plans for the launch of a new service in 2019. Research and findings from The Financial Capability Lab will inform the content of this service and we are actively seeking delivery partners to work with who are best placed to provide accurate advice on money issues and work with us to overcome the taboo of household finances.
*This is a pseudonym used to protect the identity of our beneficiary