In our most recent bi-annual survey we found that 82% of our members did not always have enough money to buy food for themselves and their families. We also found that when we asked our members what worried them the most, many cited concerns with paying bills on time, being able to access benefits, having enough money for household essentials, and housing issues, including exploitation.
At Body & Soul our whole-person approach focuses on five key impact areas: mental health; physical health; psychosocial wellbeing; practical support; and productivity. We recognise that these different areas are strongly interlinked. For example, someone facing financial difficulties can easily become socially isolated, which can lead to mental health issues, which can lead in turn to even greater isolation – all of which has a detrimental impact on that person’s psychosocial wellbeing.
It is therefore crucially important for us to address our members’ financial needs. As part of our unique package of support, we have a dedicated caseworker as well as a team of interns and volunteers who manage the practical needs of our members. The services available to members include a range of clinics (e.g. debt clinic, legal clinic, self-help centre) where they have access to expert one-to-one advice on managing life’s financial demands. These are delivered both by our staff and some of our key partners including the Terrence Higgins Trust and Rufus Leonard. Last year alone, we supported over 290 people to access benefits, receive food vouchers, secure hardship grants and manage debts.
To continue providing this service to our members, we recently applied to the NatWest Skills & Opportunities fund for funding to offer finance-based workshops and one-to-one casework support to members. We were delighted to find out we were shortlisted, which means you can support this essential component of our work by voting for Body & Soul here.
By equipping our members with the skills to manage their finances and I increasing their understanding of their right to access support, we can help them to address their practical problems before they spiral out of control. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs identifies physiological needs, including food and warmth, as a prerequisite for self-fulfilment. At Body & Soul, our vision is to mitigate the impact of childhood adversity by giving people the support and skills necessary for a bright and hopeful future; our financial skills training is a core part of this.