A New Year means a time for change in the way we blog at the Wales Co-operative Centre.
From today (January 1st) this site will only remain online as a live archive, until its subscription expires later in the year.
We are launching a new blog site at everyonesbusiness.coop. If you have something to say on co-operatives and social enterprises or co-operative solutions to tackling poverty in Wales, financial inclusion or digital inclusion, we want to hear from you. We are looking to work with people from across Wales, who have an interest in the issues we will be discussing on the site, to become regular bloggers.
If you’ve been a subscriber of this site, you will need to become a subscriber on the new site to continue receiving updates by e-mail. There are many more subscription options on the new site, helping to tailor content to your specific interests.
In the meantime, we would like to thank you for supporting this blog site over the last few years and we hope you will join us, and many others, in bringing the new site to life!
Mae Blwyddyn Newydd yn golygu amser am newid yn y ffordd rydym ni’n defnyddio safle blog Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru.
O heddiw (1 Ionawr), bydd y safle hwn yn parhau ar-lein fel archif byw yn unig, hyd nes i’w danysgrifiad ddod i ben yn hwyrach yn y flwyddyn.
Byddwn yn lansio safle blog newydd ar busnesibawb.coop. Os oes gennych chi rywbeth i’w ddweud am gwmnïau cydweithredol a mentrau cymdeithasol, neu atebion cydweithredol i fynd i’r afael â thlodi yng Nghymru, cynhwysiant ariannol neu gynhwysiant digidol, hoffem glywed oddi wrthych. Rydym ni eisiau gweithio gyda phobl o bob cwr o Gymru, sydd â diddordeb yn y materion y byddwn yn eu trafod ar y safle, i ddod yn flogwyr rheolaidd.
Os ydych chi wedi bod yn danysgrifiwr i’r safle hwn, bydd angen i chi ddod yn danysgrifiwr i’r safle newydd i barhau i dderbyn diweddariadau mewn negeseuon e-bost. Mae llawer mwy o opsiynau tanysgrifio ar y safle newydd, sy’n helpu i deilwra’r cynnwys i’ch diddordebau penodol chi.
Yn y cyfamser, hoffem ddiolch i chi am gefnogi’r safle blog hwn dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf a gobeithiwn y byddwch yn ymuno â ni, a llawer o bobl eraill, i ddod â’r safle newydd yn fyw!
It’s just before Christmas. Whilst many people are putting their ‘out of office’ messages on and joining the supermarket frenzy, I am spending a little time this afternoon thinking back on my year.
Anyone that knows me might suggest that I am thinking ‘good riddance to 2014’ but that’s not the case. I am just reflecting.
I have worked in ‘money’ over a number of years; financial advice, debt advice, financial inclusion and tackling poverty. In January 2014, Citizens Advice reported that there was a 39% increase in the number of people seeking online help with debt problems in the previous year. With their latest statistics due to be reported shortly, there are few that would expect that trend to reverse. Rising prices for energy, food and housing is putting extra pressure on people’s finances. Bureaux are finding that payday loans, credit cards and overdrafts are being used to top up people’s income as wages remain static.
Problematic debt occurs most often when personal finances are pushed to the limit…..and then something happens. Losing a job (or indeed a drop in working hours available), an addition to the family, ill health or suddenly having caring responsibilities can all be a catalyst. They all affect income and if there is no savings as a buffer, well, it’s not going to go well is it?
This summer Legal and General published data from their survey of almost 5,000 people. The Deadline to the Breadline is the number of days the average UK household could survive financially if the main breadwinner’s income is lost through long-term sickness, critical illness or death before being totally reliant on state benefits, friends or family. The average Deadline to Breadline period in the UK is 29 days. In Wales it’s 7 days. That’s because here in Wales fewer people have a back-up plan to deal with an unforeseen shock to our income.
So why at this cheery, festive time of the year is my blog post apparently full of doom and gloom? Well it’s not. From a personal perspective it’s not so much a ‘cup’s half empty’ as ‘cup’s half full’ view. It could have been me that was facing that breadline this year. Let’s just say that all plans for a normal year changed suddenly in the Spring and 6 months’ sick leave later I am back to work and acknowledging how lucky I am to be able to do so. I also appreciate working for an organisation that is so supportive of its staff when things go wrong and I am well aware that employees of many other companies are not as fortunate.
This is not something that happens to other people, it’s something that happens to us, any of us. My message is simple. Let’s make 2015 the year that we (all of us) do a bit better with our back-up plans. Yes, money is tight but it’s worth thinking about and making any adjustments to spending to save at least a little. An online savings calculator, on the Money Made Clear Wales website, can help
Credit unions are a great place to put money aside for the unexpected. A little bit, put away regularly can really mount up. Safe, ethically sound and instant access, they offer an ideal place to keep your savings far enough away from temptation but near enough to access when needed. Hopefully you won’t need it to fall back on it, but it’s there if you do.
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2015.
Katija Dew is the Financial Inclusion Programme Director at the Wales Co-operative Centre
If you’re a subscriber of this site, please note that blog posts will no longer be published here after January 1st 2015.
A new blog site will be launched on the same day, to help replace this site, details of which will be made available at the time.
If you wish to receive updates from the new blog site, you will need to select from a menu of subscription options. We hope this will improve your experience as a subscriber to our blog posts.
We will be publishing a final post on this site on January 1st, which will include links to the new site and how to subscribe to it. Thank you for your co-operation.
Duncan Forbes is Chief Executive of Bron Afon Community Housing. Bron Afon is a social enterprise and registered social landlord.
In this blog post he talks about an innovative project to develop co-operatively managed accommodation for young people who would otherwise be at risk of homelessness.
When Dr Peter Mackie, from Cardiff University told our youth forum that by 2020 there would be a housing crisis for young people it spurred them into action.
Bron Afon owned a derelict community centre and we were looking at demolishing it. But, thanks to the young people involved with the youth forum’s ideas and research, eight new starter homes with support have just opened.
The project created a chance to put the young people’s innovative and creative ideas into action.
Bron Afon Community Housing staff and internal trade teams refurbished the block that is for 16-24 year-olds, who are in, or aspire to be in, education, employment, training or volunteering.
Ty Cyfle is the first completed project by Bron Afon’s Own 2 Feet Living service which provides innovative accommodation for young people.
Young people have taken the lead with this initiative and provided each other with mutual support, helped by our skilled youth team and our volunteers. Working in this way the group has dramatically changed the lives and life chances of many of its members for the better, including young people who have previously fallen down the gaps between other support and care services.
This service is unique, as it is led by young people who know the combination of accommodation and tailored support will help their peers succeed.
Our team help the tenants to stand on their own two feet and move on into their next tenancy within two years. During that time they get help with budgeting, cooking cheap meals and being a good neighbour.
Our Own 2 Feet support package has been running for a few years and not a single tenant who has been through it has failed in their tenancy.
Afon Youth has set up a management committee for Ty Cyfle with the tenants. It has set some simple ‘house rules’ and self-manages any low-level issues.
Ty Cyfle is a fantastic example of how co-operative working leads to outcomes that you can never imagine, by not following a traditional ‘we know best’ or ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ approach.
An Afon Youth member
Suzy Sorby, has been a member of Afon Youth since the start and now works for Bron Afon. She said:
“We are passionate about the problems that young people face when getting housing and this includes the perceptions of homeless young people. Over the course of three years we filled up two large folders with our research. We all knew that what we were doing was something unique, something that no one else was doing, and we, the young people were given the opportunities to do it for ourselves. This was young people helping young people.
“Afon Youth is made up of a diverse group of young people, including some who had experience of being homeless.
“It was identified that there was a big gap from living in 24 hour support to floating support once a young person was successful in managing their own home and finances. It was highlighted by the young people who had gone through Own 2 Feet that there was something extra needed for young people to be ready for independent living. This is how we got our idea for Ty Cyfle.”
Ty Cyfle and the local community
Ty Cyfle has two community rooms where residents in the local area will be able to access services like computer training and job hunting. We will also run our various work programmes under the ‘That Works’ banner, which has already helped many people into training and work.
You can contact Bron Afon Community Housing on 01633 620111 and follow Duncan Forbes on Twitter @forbes_duncan
THFI Project Manager, Jocelle Lovell, takes some time to reflect on the launch of the project’s legacy report, which took place this week, on Wednesday 3rd December
I was going to write a blog on the day in the hope of capturing all of the passion, enthusiasm and interest in our work, but then I decided to take time to reflect on the event:
The project has been a 3 year roller coaster ride with plenty of highs and lows, and having to constantly evolve to reflect changes outside of our control. The biggest challenge being, the lack of detail early on regarding the roll out of Universal Credit.
The event was very kindly hosted by the Huggard Centre, which for me sent a very poignant message. Our work is very much focused on the prevention of homelessness, whilst the work of the Huggard Centre is trying to break the cycle of homelessness. Prevention projects, like ours, are vital if we are to reduce the number of people who end up living on the streets, sofa surfing or living in temporary hostel accommodation.
We were very grateful to have Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, speak at the event, where it was recognised our work brought together all the elements of her portfolio.
The event was not only an opportunity to thank the project’s funders, Welsh Government and the Oak Foundation, but also to showcase our work to our new funders, Comic Relief, who found the event very informative and gave them insight into our thinking and methodology.
Attendees came from local authorities, credit unions, funders and third sector organisations. Whilst most were familiar with our work, and had been active partners, the event highlighted new opportunities, with many attendees requesting follow up meetings to see how we can work together in the future.
There is still so little we know about the Private Rented Sector, and so much more work to be done, but now is as good a time as any to get started…….
You can find the full report here.
We tweeted live from the launch using #THFI. Below is what some attendees had to say:
Full house @WalesCoOpCentre #THFI report launch ‘Need to engage with #PRS 2 improve #housingWales & #Financial Inclusion
#thfi manager Jo Lovell – ‘thfi’s ability to adapt and evolve to environment, has been key to success’ #THFI
@WG_CommunityMin: Spoke at @WalesCoOpCentre #thfi launch about the role of financial security in preventing homelessness & helping people live fulfilled lives