Debt advice programme puts special guest on the bill

Actor and activist Michael Sheen joins the cast of Money Mentors to spotlight the difference debt advice can make.

Money Mentors

Michael Sheen’s new role is right on money.

The actor and activist has joined the cast of Money Mentors – a new training course from Tai Tarian to help staff support tenants with money worries.

Money Mentors plays out as part of programme Port Talbot-based Tai Tarian has put on to, in turn, support the End High Cost Credit Alliance – founded by Michael to take down the targeting of high cost credit at those who can least afford it.

Research carried out by Tai Tarian has shown that debt and high cost credit is widespread in the communities it serves, with many people struggling to cope.

Money Mentors, which will be taken by staff and local boy Michael himself, aims to ensure that everyone who works at Tai Tarian will have the confidence to talk to tenants about money worries, offer support and signpost them to services that can offer debt advice.

Launching the course, Michael had his lines down pat: “This is such an exciting opportunity to work with Tai Tarian and really help people who may be vulnerable to high cost credit and are struggling with debt and the worries this brings.

“At the heart of the End High Cost Credit Alliance is the lived experience of people dealing with these issues in their everyday lives.

“This means the work we do can be rooted in communities where ideas can be developed with the people of those communities themselves.

“If those ideas are effective then they could end up making a significant difference to people all across the UK.

“I still feel very connected to Port Talbot. My family and friends are here, and I want to see if by training people who are going out in the community and meeting those who may be in need, we can make a difference.

“If we learn to identify the warning signs, understand the issues and have the confidence to signpost to services who can offer advice in a fair and responsive way that would be brilliant.”

Money Mentors has been developed by Tai Tarian and Toynbee Hall, who are also part of the End High Cost Credit Alliance.

It has been tested with a small group of staff and adapted to suit the local community in enabling the organisation to work as a team to support tenants and the wider community to have better financial health.

The course is a mixture of group and e-learning with the aim of giving staff:

  • An understanding of the issues and the impact they have on individuals, families and communities
  • An understanding of personal budgeting and money management
  • Help to spot the early signs of financial pressure
  • The ability to confidently advise and signpost to organisations who can help

Tai Tarian Chief Executive Linda Whittaker said she wanted to see as many Tai Tarian staff as possible knowing “what to say and do” when they meet those needing support around making money work better for them.

“We know from talking and listening to our tenants about the money issues in our local communities, and we also know that if money is working well then that person is likely to experience less stress, be healthier, happier and more connected.

“The Money Mentors course will enable us to try out ideas together and see how we can be more aware and able to help people sort out their money worries,” said Linda.

“We all meet tenants in our roles which means we have a unique opportunity to help people when we are out and about in the community.

“This might mean spotting when someone’s boiler hasn’t been switched on for a while and taking the time to check if someone needs help, or knowing how to respond if someone actively asks for information,” she said.

The Money Mentor’s course is part of the wider End High Cost Credit Alliance aim of training workforces across the UK to ensure multiple points of support to advice and fair, responsible financial provision both locally and online.

Tai Tarian is one of the founding members of the Alliance and also a key partner in the Wales Affordable Credit Group, which is delivering work locally.

The course builds on the experiences of the Making Money Work Better group, set up by Tai Tarian and Toynbee Hall to understand the reality of life for people in the local community who are living with debt.

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