Katy and Martin Lewis
?Friday, 15 March 2013
Money saving expert Martin Lewis visited Coventry on Wednesday March 13 to open a new, free, service that is the first of its kind in the midlands, to help cash-strapped local people manage their money.
Thanks to a Big Lottery Grant of £1 million, Coventry Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), together with Groundwork West Midlands, Whitefriars Housing, Midland Heart and Coventry City Council, launched SORTED, a scheme that aims to improve the financial confidence of people living in social housing in Coventry.
The three-year project is targeted at first time tenants, young people under the age of 25 and people that have experienced changes in their financial circumstances.
Specialist trainers and volunteer coaches will deliver one-to-one and group sessions on subjects including budgeting and banking, understanding the benefits system, your rights and obligations as a tenant, how to heat the home and eating healthily on a budget.
A tailored programme of support will be created for each social housing tenant referred to SORTED.
The programme will be delivered from the new SORTED flat, a replica flat and training centre, on Little Park Street in the city centre, in between Whitefriars Housing and CAB. The training sessions will be brought to life in the flat through the use of working kitchens, meters, heating systems and affordable home furniture.
With the introduction of the bedroom tax in April and benefits changes being phased in this year, the skills that people will learn from these sessions will help them cope with the changes.
In addition, the programme will support young and vulnerable people in the early stages of their tenancies so that they can develop the independent living skills needed to manage a tenancy.
Commenting on SORTED Martin Lewis said: “Unless you’ve already done it, everyone can find something that’ll make their money go further. The SORTED project is taking that message and lots of tips out there to people who need it most – those on a limited budget who are facing change in their lives. It’s simple steps include maximising your income and then making sure that it’s used most effectively. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to be able to support it.”
Charley Gibbons, CEO of Coventry CAB, said: “We are delighted to extend our work in partnership with housing associations in the city and Groundwork. This project will support tenants to manage their money better and help sustain their tenancies. Often our intervention as a CAB comes too late, or at a point when options are limited and families are really suffering, and we hope this project will help keep people on their feet and help them aspire to greater things.”
Leisa Dixon, financial inclusion strategy manager for WM Housing, which Whitefriars is part of, said: “These are difficult times for our customers. The upcoming welfare reforms will place additional strains on people’s already tight budgets. As the largest social housing landlord in Coventry we have many financial support initiatives which we are running for our residents. This project will help people make the best of their resources and protect their futures.”
John Taylor, Big Lottery Fund head of the west midlands, said: “I welcome the launch of Coventry CAB’s SORTED project, which will help thousands of social housing residents across the area to learn how to live affordably and sustain their tenancies at a time when financial pressures are building. Welfare reform comes into force next month, so this project comes at a critical time. It is part of an England-wide initiative from the Big Lottery Fund that aims to help vulnerable social housing tenants become more financially aware and more confident in money management as well as better able to access financial products and services.”
People will be referred to SORTED by their housing associations.
Anyone who is interested in volunteering for the SORTED project should contact Sabir Zazai, the Sorted programme manager, on 024 7625 2062, or they can email SZazai@coventrycab.org.uk