For a future without poverty
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HRH the Duchess of Cornwall shows great compassion and interest for FITH
Published: 27 Mar 2013
On the 26th of March 2013, Her Royal Highness (HRH) the Duchess of Cornwall came to visit Toynbee Hall to see the impact of the Financially Inclusive Tower Hamlets (FITH) project.
FITH is a partnership of organisations involved in promoting financial inclusion in Tower Hamlets. The aim of FITH is to ensure that local residents have access to appropriate financial services and the confidence and skills to manage their money on a day-to-day basis, plan for the future and deal with financial distress. Tower Hamlets is one of the UK’s most financially excluded boroughs, which in turn is a primary factor as to why Tower Hamlets has the highest child poverty rate in the UK. Research conducted by Toynbee Hall found that 47 per cent of borough residents owe money and 27 per cent were behind with repayments.
A Compassionate Duchess
The Duchess met advisers, local residents who have benefited from the services, and key FITH partners. Sian Williams, head of Financial Inclusion at Toynbee Hall says: “HRH heard from many Tower Hamlets residents how they had struggled with money due to low incomes and high living costs, but had been helped by local services to tackle their money issues. She showed genuine interest in people’s stories and was impressed by their resilience and the impact support agencies are having in reducing poverty and hardship. Dolly Galvis, Head of the Debt Advice Services at Toynbee Hall says: “Great to see HRH the Duchess of Cornwall showing great compassion and interest in Toynbee Hall’s Debt Advice service. Our Specialist debt adviser Victoria and two of our service users, John and Vesna, are thrilled and full of pride to have had the opportunity to talk her about the service and their own life experiences”.
HRH was particularly interested in FITH’s systemic, joined-up approach to tackling financial exclusion. Sian Williams says: “She told me that it was the most sensible idea she had heard in a long time, and recognised the value in organisations working together to improve the way services are delivered so that less financial burden is passed on to low-income families.”
Her Royal Highness also met with providers of financial education activities for young people and young local residents including Money for Life Participants, young children from the Culloden Primary School and a class of Money Mentors, local residents who are trained to share reliable knowledge about money management with their friends, family and neighbours. The Duchess saw how both young people and adults are learning through FITH’s work to take control of their money, and showed particular interest in our Money Mentor programme. She heard how Money Mentors have learnt to save money on their weekly budget and are now sharing that knowledge with their communities.
Toynbee Hall’s Head of Financial Inclusion says: “We are delighted that the Duchess has shown interest in our approach to reducing financial hardship; too many service providers inadvertently case financial hardship through the way they do business. Achieving real change for excluded and vulnerable families requires big businesses, like our partners Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group, to be more inclusive and supportive. We hope that the Duchess’ interest in these issues will encourage other commercial organisations to think about how they might help families be better off through eradicating poor policies and practice.”