Children are saving for a rainy day

Guy Opperman, MP, and the Bishop of Newcastle, Chrstine Hardman, at Shaftoe Trust Primary School.
Guy Opperman, MP, and the Bishop of Newcastle, Chrstine Hardman, at Shaftoe Trust Primary School.

A shift in attitudes, Tynedale Community Bank and Shaftoe Trust Primary School are leading the way in creating a new savings culture through savings clubs, financial education, and support for families and the local community.

Recently, the Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Christine Hardman, the bank I helped to co-found – the Tynedale Community Bank – were at the school in Haydon Bridge for the launch of the LifeSavers programme.

The scheme, spearheaded by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was set-up to help encourage children to manage their money wisely. Government funding was announced in December 2014 to pilot the programme in primary schools in six schools in West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, and South East London.

Additional Government funding will extend the reach of the programme to primary schools outside the main roll out areas through a dedicated LifeSavers website and an offer of free financial education consultancy to 250 primary schools.

Beyond this, support from Virgin Money means that the scheme is expanding to 120 church and non-church schools in six areas by 2018.

The programme’s 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 in the community and for the community, and by doing so stave off the rise of the pay-day lenders.

Launched last year by Dr John Sentamu the Archbishop of York, the bank has gone from strength to strength; it now has a membership of nearly 100 people, and one loan has already been repaid.

Crucially, however, achieving a more sustainable and healthy savings environment has to be about more than just the financial products on offer, and the type of bank you go to. It is about culture – shifting individuals, families and the community attitudes towards saving. Last month the UK’s households on average owed £56,310, and per adult owed an average of £30,105 – around 113.6 per cent of average earnings. It is clear the current, prevalent attitude toward borrowing, and financial security, cannot go on forever.

That is why, as a bank, the Tynedale Community Bank is excited to be part of the LifeSavers scheme. It has never been so important to teach the younger generation about finances and how to manage their money wisely.

As a bank we are delighted to be playing our part in helping Shaftoe Trust Primary School be a trailblazer for the national scheme, by running the School Savings Club.

It is early days but parents have told us that they have been amazed by the interest and enthusiasm shown by the children, noticing positive effects such as wanting to actually save some of their pocket money.

The programme starts with practical savings club in a school, in partnership with the local credit union or community bank. This helps children save small amounts of money regularly, giving practical learning through the experience of handling money, setting savings targets and so on. The aim is not to encourage large amounts – children can save 2p a week if they would like – it is more about encouraging an attitude to saving; it is about regularity, generating the habit, rather than the amount you can save.

Beyond this, LifeSavers offers whole-school financial education, with curriculum-linked resources, plus training and support for teachers to embed financial education into their practice. Outside of school, there is also support to engage parents, families and the whole community in learning: helping parents and carers find out more about how they can help their children learn about money, and enhance the whole family’s financial capability.

It also, where possible, wants to link in with local churches to provide volunteer support and involvement. A community approach, to creating a local savings community.

For Tynedale Community Bank being part of LifeSavers perfectly ties into our values-based approach to helping people save and get by. Our bank has already been working in partnership with the programme, at a number of schools across the area helping to provide sensible financial education to children. We have four other schools signed up in the local Tynedale Area, including: Greenhead First School, Henshaw First School, Hexham East First School, and Highfield Middle School, and want to expand our services to any local school that is interested.

When we founded Tynedale Community Bank it was with these exact values in mind, and it is a huge privilege to have the Bank as part of the scheme. This is about a community led, ground-up attitude change to saving, and managing money, and as bank we want to lead the way in the effort. It was with great pride that Tynedale Community Bank was a part of the LifeSavers launch at Shaftoe Trust Primary School, but make no bones about it, we are here for the long hall and want to see many more of these savings clubs open across Northumberland in the future.