Trust Makes Impact On Debt, Training And Unemployment

29th August 2012

Debt problems have been eased for thousands of people by advisors who say the issue is one of the biggest facing residents of Doncaster’s most deprived communities.

And they have warned that a long-term approach is the only solution to the financial difficulties experienced by numerous families, despite current funding constraints.

Projects run by Doncaster West Development Trust (DWDT) to tackle the causes of debt have made a significant impact according to figures announced at its recent annual general meeting.

Staff and board members heard that a 22-month project to improve money management skills had resulted in support for 8,160 Doncaster people – far exceeding the target of 5,000.

DWDT chief executive Marisa Graziano said sustaining the effort was vital as those in debt were often forced into further financial hardship because traditional methods of spending and saving were denied to them.

“People in this situation don’t have bank accounts, can’t pay for overdraft facilities and struggle to get affordable credit to spread their payments so they’re pushed into much more expensive ways of borrowing and spending,” she explained.

She also said that an initial lack of understanding about money could lead to a lifetime of problems and stressed the need for financial knowledge from an early age.

The meeting heard that a 12-month project to provide money guidance across the borough had attracted more than 2,000 people to training sessions and had been particularly popular in schools.

Now a three-year `Money Matters’ programme, funded by the Big Lottery, is continuing to make inroads. Two full-time staff have established support groups across Doncaster where people can find out about budgeting, spending and borrowing. Confidential debt advice is also available. The public response has been very positive, putting the initiative on course to meet its target of helping 2,000 residents.

Other successes include a substance misuse programme that has so far supported more than 100 people and exceeded targets for getting them into work or training. The achievement has led to funding from the Doncaster Drug Strategy Unit being secured until March next year.

DWDT is also continuing its computer basics classes which are free to Doncaster residents plus a twice weekly Job Club which gives people online access to vacancies, help with CVs, job searches, interview techniques and other resources.

Chairman Alan Sherriff thanked funding providers and paid tribute to staff and volunteers for their dedication, adding that he was confident the organisation would continue to build on its many achievements.