When Home-Start Medway commissioned me to undertake an Organisational Strengths Review, I was excited to find out more about their new Big Lottery Fund project, Financial Fitness Champions. I’ve worked with a number of Home-Start schemes around the country and parents often suggest that financial problems are placing their family under severe stress, but such issues are rarely the focus of a Big Lottery Fund project.
Financial Fitness Champions supports families to understand budgeting better, identify and deal with debts, liaise with creditors and provides practical support to enable families to maximise their income and reduce expenditure. Home-Start Medway recruits and trains volunteers (or “Champions”) who provide specialist support to families. Sarah, one of the volunteers, explains more,
“I have seen first-hand the difference it can make from meeting a parent scared and in hardship, not even able to face opening their bills and supporting them to the point where they can come in and make phone calls to resolve issues, opening their letters and making notes and being able to amend their own budget when their finances change. It gives them the confidence and ability to know they can manage their own finances moving forward, this really is life changing for some parents.”
Our Organisational Strengths Review enabled Home-Start Medway to identify strengths, areas for improvement, opportunities and gaps in local services. We’ve completed a number of these reviews for a range of charities, but we’ve developed a specific model for Home-Start which works well. In addition to working strategically with trustees and staff, we also engaged volunteers, families and external stakeholders, leaving Home-Start Medway with a final report which included a clear plan of action and recommendations.