Norwich church resource addresses benefit misery
A team from Kings Church at Mile Cross is trying to help people tackle the new rules around Universal Credit, which is creating concern and confusion among local people who rely on state benefits.
Universal Credit brings together six benefits and is paid monthly and through a bank account, proving to be a huge challenge to people who are used to weekly or fortnightly payments. Under the new system, tenants are responsible for paying their rent out of their benefits as the money no longer goes direct to their landlord.
Two years ago, a member of the King's Church Money Advice team, Les Champion, began to feel the need to do something about people getting into debt in the first place. Almost at the same time, Universal Credit came to Norwich. Les has seen first-hand how the system presents a big challenge to those people who rely on benefits being paid on a weekly or fortnightly basis.
Les and a team from the church have devised ‘Shoestring’, a project which draws attention to the introduction of Universal Credit, and its implications for people. Shoestring has prepared a display stand with information, handouts, budgeting forms and digital resources. In addition, informal personal support is offered at King's Venue in the Mile Cross area of Norwich.
The stand and resources are easily transportable and the team hope to offer their services and advice other groups and locations.
The idea of an information point is a development of a weekly support group that was started up last year. The purpose of the group was to foster a friendly environment and build sufficient confidence so that people could openly discuss difficulties in handling finances, and to share ideas. Les said, “While the group was much appreciated by the only two guests who came regularly, we found ourselves going over and over the same material, looking for different angles on a limited range of associated subjects.”
After prayer and careful consideration, it was decided to stop the support group and replace it with a display. The resources are regularly available to a Monday morning group who meet at the Venue for coffee, croissants and chat. Les is encouraged by the interest shown and is pleased to have project Shoestring ready at a time it is needed most. He said, “We are amazed at the wisdom and might of our God in alerting us early to a problem which is only just beginning to enter the public consciousness.”
For further information about Shoestring contact Les on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07947 083516
Pictured above: The Shoestring Information Stand with team members Les Champion, Jack Fawcett, and Linda Barber