Savings clubs, financial education and support for families and the community: the tools to creating a real savings culture, with which the Tynedale Community Bank is leading the charge.
Today (Thursday), the bank I helped to co-found, the Tynedale Community Bank, is at the North East launch of the LifeSavers programme, a scheme to encourage children to manage their money wisely.
This is about a community-led, ground-up attitude change to managing money, and we want to lead the way.
The initiative is spearheaded by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in partnership with Young Enterprise, and funded by Virgin Money. Its mission is to support schools in equipping children to manage money and learn how to save.
The Tynedale Community Bank has a local, values-based approach to banking. We want to provide accessible savings and loans, and so stave off the pay-day lenders.
Launched last year, the bank has gone from strength to strength. It now has a membership of nearly 100, and one loan has already been repaid. Earlier this summer it held its first conference, inviting people to hear about its progress. It also plans to expand its number of information points, from Hexham Abbey and Allendale Village Hall to Haydon Bridge, Bellingham and Prudhoe. It is early days, and we are still making huge strides.
Crucially, however, achieving a more sustainable and healthy savings environment has to be about more than just financial products. It is about culture — shifting attitudes towards saving. This does not mean that we want a nation of misers, but when last month the UK’s households owed a total of £1.5trillion, up £1,037 per adult on the month before, something has to change.
That is why the Tynedale Community Bank is so excited to be part of the LifeSavers scheme. LifeSavers is about encouraging savings habits in school so that when pupils head out into the world, they know the value of money and have the tools to manage their finances.
Initially this focuses around a savings club in school, in partnership with a credit union or community bank. This helps children save small amounts of money regularly, giving practical learning through the experience of handling money. The aim is not to encourage large amounts, it is about encouraging an attitude to saving.
LifeSavers offers whole-school financial education, with curriculum-linked resources, plus training and support for teachers. There is also support to engage parents, families and the community in learning, helping them to find out more about how they can help children learn and enhance the whole family’s financial capability.
It also wants to link with churches to provide volunteer support and involvement — a community approach to creating a local savings community.
For Tynedale Community Bank being part of LifeSavers ties into our values-based approach to helping people save and get by. Our bank has already been working at a number of schools. We want to support all schools that want to take part.
Too many people have become disjointed from the concept of money. By educating children, the bank wants to encourage a healthier attitude towards it. This is about a community-led, ground-up attitude change to managing money, and we want to lead the way.
The Tynedale Community Bank has its first anniversary celebrations on Friday, December 16. It is hosting a screening of It’s a Wonderful Life at the Forum Cinema, Hexham. Tickets are £5 on the door. Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.