On 22 May, 2018, Advice NI launched the evaluation report from a year-long project that showed improvements in mental wellbeing and money management skills, behaviours and confidence for people with acute and chronic mental health issues.
Working in partnership with our Mental Health Services, Advice NI trained 114 service users in money management skills, and 35 Inspire staff and volunteers as ‘Money Champions’. Money Champions then worked with service users to provide support with their money issues and to help them access advice services. The launch of the report took place at Stormont’s Long Gallery and was sponsored by M.L.A. Mark H. Durkan, Chair of Stormont’s All-Party Group on Mental Health. Vice Chair of the All-Party Group, M.L.A. Robbie Butler, and Member of the Group, M.L.A. Alex Maskey, both attended and spoke at the Stormont launch, which was also attended by project participants, Money Champions, representatives from Advice NI, Inspire Mental Health, the Money Advice Service and other elected representatives.
Service users who took part reported a 21% reduction in worry about their money situation; a 17% reduction in stress and anxiety caused by money management; a 19% reduction in stress and anxiety caused by debt and a 10% reduction in stress and anxiety caused by Welfare Reform. In addition, they reported a range of improvements in their knowledge, skills and confidence around managing their money, and other positive changes to their financial management behaviours, such as saving and keeping track of spending.
Bob Stronge, CEO of Advice NI said, “Poor mental health has been clearly linked to having financial difficulties. This project has tested a new model for working with people with mental health difficulties to help improve their financial outcomes that shows real promise. It is now essential to find ways to continue this work beyond the end of this pilot project.”
The Managing Chang£ project was funded by the Money Advice Service (MAS) as part of its ‘What Works’ fund which focused on building evidence of the types of interventions that can make a measurable difference to people’s ability to manage their money (financial capability). Across the UK 58 projects have been undertaken, three in NI.