Money for Life, Lloyds Banking Group’s UK-wide financial education programme, is targeted at the further education, adult and community learning sector. There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ learner in this sector – it might be a hairdressing apprentice, a student studying A Levels at their local college, or a mature student enrolled on a ‘back to work’ course through their housing association.
It is a fascinating sector that reaches into the heart of communities, and often provides accessible education and training to the most disadvantaged in society, yet it does not often attract investment from the private sector. For a bank with an ambition to truly help Britain’s communities prosper and to direct help where it is needed the most, it is exactly the right place to be investing.
Last year we launched the Money for Life Challenge – a brand new competition that said to 16-24 year olds in further education, adult and community learning “you know your communities better than anyone, so we are going to give you a small grant to address the money management issues that most affect local people.”
The results were truly remarkable. A team in Scotland were shocked by pay day lenders targeting vulnerable people in their communities so they hit the streets of Paisley to educate people about the affordable borrowing options available to them. A group of young people in Bridgend – the eventual winners of the competition – spent their budget on 50 different branded and non branded goods, and challenged students on a very tight budget to think about the choices they were making with their weekly shop.
The true success of the Challenge is, for me, represented in the story of Troy, a young man living in a centre for young people at risk of homelessness in London.
Troy’s youth worker encouraged him to get involved in the Challenge and he led the Buffet on a Budget team that set out to teach young people the benefits of healthy eating with limited means.
When we met them at the final, Troy and his team told us how the project had fostered a sense of community and an interest in cooking amongst the vulnerable young people at the centre, and just as importantly had given them a passion and a focus.
Troy subsequently decided that he wanted to put his cooking skills and new found confidence to good use and applied to be one of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen apprentices. We were delighted earlier this month to learn that his application had been a success, and he starts his new job in September, ending a long period of unemployment. People like Troy are what the Money for Life programme is all about.
We set out to craft a programme that would help empower young people to manage their money better and to help their communities do the same. Yet 100% of participants told us that it also improved their job skills. For many of the participants, becoming an expert in a practical subject put them in a leadership position within their communities, and this had a transformational effect on many aspects of their lives. Almost every finalist told us that their confidence had improved beyond measure as result of getting involved with this programme.
And, as is evident in Troy’s story, when you mix that sense of empowerment with confidence and team work skills then the experience can be truly life changing.