Foodbank charity the Trussell Trust has announced that it will roll out its ‘More than Food Programme’ to 30 foodbanks across the UK, offering financial triage, debt and money advice to people struggling with their money management, thanks to a GBP500,000 personal donation from ‘Money Saving Expert’ Martin Lewis.
Trussell Trust, which runs a network of over 420 foodbanks in Britain, said debt advice and money management in the UK is often hard to access for many people that are on low incomes and are in debt, who often have to wait a month or more before seeing an advisor. The longer these people have to wait for help, their debt and money problems can become even more serious. The ‘More than Food Programme’ is designed to help foodbanks provide more than emergency food in order to address some of the underlying causes of food poverty.
Earlier this year, the Trussell Trust ran eight pilot projects with financial support from Lewis, an award-winning campaigning TV and radio presenter, newspaper columnist and author. The charity worked with specialist debt charities to provide immediate access to household budgeting and money advice in foodbanks. Trussell Trust said it helped hundreds of foodbank clients, who were identified as most in need of support, to get same day access to specialist advisors. In one foodbank, over 90% of clients who received advice, had either resolved their issues or were close to having done so, two months into the project.
The charity piloted the project in Cardiff, Coventry, Dundee, Durham, Hammersmith & Fulham, Stroud, Bangor and Newry. The project was designed to investigate the effectiveness of introducing a Financial Triage service in foodbanks. This service ensured clients could prevent their situation from getting worse and help them to break out of financial crisis by directly accessing free debt and money advice. The clients were advised on how to seek professional help to manage their finances and household budgets, as well as how to avoid pay day lenders and structure their debt.
With the triage approach, the Trussell Trust was able to work with a number of specialist partners that included CAB, Community Money Advice, Advice Northern Ireland, Advice UK, Christians Against Poverty, Stepchange, Turn2US, Money Advice, Trust and local independent advisors.
Chief executive of Trussell Trust David McAuley commented:
“These pilots have been a huge help to some of our most vulnerable clients. People struggling with housing payments, redundancy or illness whilst on a low income were helped by advisors to have the confidence to tackle their finances and turn their lives around.”
He added: “We’re very grateful to Martin for his extremely generous donation and look forward to working with more foodbanks to extend the pilot.”