Making money count

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Managing money today is tough and about to get tougher for Fenland people living on low wages or benefits or both.

Many are forced to choose between putting food on the table, paying the rent and heating their home. More welfare reforms on the way aren’t going to make it any easier.

I’ve just retired and wanted to help so I’ve joined the Rural Cambs CAB Making Money Count bus as a volunteer Money Mate.

The bright green and yellow bus calls at a different Fenland town every Wednesday from 10am to 1pm and everyone’s welcome aboard. You’ll recognise it from the New Horizons logo.

Inside you can sit with us and share tips on how you manage on a budget, or you can bring a money problem along to be dealt with by professional CAB adviser Sarah Bellow, who can chat with you over a coffee in the main part of the bus or see you in a private interview room.

Up to now (the bus started rolling in August) we’ve focused on food - we have recipes you can make for under £1 and have surveyed local supermarkets to find the best times to go for a bargain – and this month we’re talking about energy bills and how to keep them low.

I hope to start training next year to be an adviser myself. You work up in stages until everyone’s sure you have the knowledge and quick research capability to do the job.

Having seen people arrive with a money problem and leave with a solution, armed with a practical range of options to explore, I’m proud to be a part of the CAB.

Visit the New Horizons bus, in Wisbech Market Place on October 23, November 20 and December 18; in Chatteris Furrowfields car park on October 30 and November 28, in Broad Street, March, on November 6 and December 4 and Whittlesey Market Square October 16, November 13 and December 11.

To find out more about the five-year Making Money Count project or to volunteer for Rural Cambs CAB contact Sarah Bellow on 01945 469785 or 07951 418258

Making Money Count is a £1m Big Lottery project helping local people develop their skills and confidence in managing their money at home, online and out in the community.

The project is delivered by a partnership of Roddons Housing Association, Fenland District Council, Rural Cambs Citizens Advice Bureau and CHS Group

The project offers a wide range of services designed to overcome some of the particular challenges of the Fenland area – particularly rural isolation, limited internet access, unemployment and access to services and support.

Free services provided within the project include:

Independent money advice, information and practical help on the New Horizons Bus visiting towns and villages and community events across Fenland

One to one support for people starting a tenancy with a housing association, including help with money decisions, getting online and guidance on work and training options.

Opportunities to volunteer with the CAB as a Money Mate enabling people to get the help and support they need for the problems they face

Training for local voluntary and community workers to help them support people facing money challenges in these difficult times