Recovery Essentials Financial Inclusion Project
The Recovery Essentials project was funded by the Big Lottery Fund for two years from March 2014 – March 2016. Our goal was to provide greater financial security for people in recovery through welfare benefits and budgeting advice as well as fostering skills to use benefits, banking and housing systems effectively. Our focus in this project was people in Edinburgh at all stages of recovery from substance misuse, mental health, and homelessness.
Our Financial Inclusion workers were based within drug and alcohol services, as well as other community projects, and provided advice and support, developed group work on financial inclusion issues, and explored the most effective methods of working with people with challenging needs and circumstances. Placing our inclusion workers at sites that were already providing other recovery and support services meant that we could help to offer a complete approach to recovery and help to reduce some of the stress that could have lead to relapse.
Our Financial Inclusion workers offered:
- Information on benefits which is accessible, understandable, timely and relevant to clients
- Help to claim all benefit entitlements
- Help to access bank accounts
- Advocacy to undergo assessments, appeals, and tribunals
- Group workshops to help clients understand and develop skills to use the benefits system, banks and financial products
- Group workshops looking at budgeting, spending, saving, and impulsive spending.
Initially, clients presented themselves with issues that needed immediate attention such as disruption to benefits, rent arrears, other debts and utility disconnections. Our aim was also to engage the people we work with to plan for the longer term, and to offer help with practicalities such as opening bank accounts, comparing utility services to find the best rate, and budgeting. We also developed peer support networks to help with on-going support.
Throughout the project we were able to present our results to others working in the same field.