Our Community Money Advice Centre (CMAC) at Alma House in Newtown will be closed this week. Instead we will be running a limited drop in service at the Centre for the Aston Family on Witton Road in Aston, from 9:30am-1pm on Monday 13th, Tuesday 14th and Thursday 16th May. Drop in will return to the normal time and place next week.
Our Money Advice drop in service is now open at the following times:
- Mondays – 9:30am-3:30pm.
- Tuesdays – 9:30am-3:30pm.
- Thursdays – 9:30am-3:30pm.
You don’t need an appointment to come to our drop in service, just come along with all of your paperwork (e.g. letters from Jobcentre Plus or your creditor) and wait for an advisor to see you.
We also now take appointments on Fridays for those who don’t wish to wait at our drop in service – Please contact us to request an appointment.
At this time of the year many people find themselves in a desperate financial situation having had to spend money on Christmas celebrations and this year is worse than ever. With soaring fuel and food bills and ongoing unemployment many have to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families.
Birmingham Settlement helps local people by offering a range of money advice services to enable people to stabilise their finances and pay off their debts. This winter we have seen a 13% increase in clients coming to our drop-in service. January has proved to be busier than ever and we urgently need to find extra funds.
We are asking whether you would be able to make a donation to enable us to help local people at this difficult time of year, or if you might be able to arrange a collection for us. Alternatively, could you make a donation of clothes, books or toys to help our charity shops raise funds to support our work, while also providing affordable goods to local people?
How you can donate
- Send a cheque payable to ‘Birmingham Settlement’ to Rob Netherway at Units 4-7 Alma House, Newtown Shopping Centre, Birmingham, B19 2AB.
- Donate online through JustGiving or Everyday Hero:
- Set up a standing order or make a bank transfer – You can set up a regular donation through JustGiving (http://www.justgiving.com/birminghamsettlement/Donate) or please contact us for details.
- Bring donated goods into your nearest Birmingham Settlement shop.
To find out other ways you can support Birmingham Settlement please see click here.
Last year Birmingham Settlement delivered the Stay Warm, Stay Well project in partnership with Birmingham City Council. We are running this project again in 2013 where we are once again providing financial advice to help people keep their homes warm during the winter months, including helping you to reduce your energy bills and gain access to the benefits you are entitled to. If you need assistance during these cold months please get in touch to see how we can help.
Birmingham Settlement’s Money Advice service is now able to deliver debt advice and benefits advice via email through our new email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails sent to this address will be responded to by our money advisers, enabling us to help a wider range of people than before and improving the accessibility of our services for those who need them.
Birmingham Settlement is launching a new project with Severn Trent Trust Fund to provide financial assistance to people experiencing hardship who need help to pay their water bills. The Severn Trent Trust Fund makes grants to individuals to help them to pay their bills. If you are struggling to pay your water and other bills you can apply for a grant online or get in touch via email, phone or by attending our money advice drop in service to complete the application with us.
To apply for a grant from the Severn Trent Trust Fund please visit their website here: http://www.sttf.org.uk/app.htm Applications will usually be processed within 4-6 weeks. If you need assistance please email Birmingham Settlement at email@example.com or contact our Community Money Advice Centre (CMAC) for help.
Birmingham Settlement currently delivers money advice outreach work at Birmingham Central Foodbank and in December made a collection of food items for the bank. In this video Patricia from the Foodbank explains how a foodbank works and how you can help.
This year, Christmas coincides with huge price hikes in utilities, pay freezes and cuts and changes to the benefit system, which is making the annual event more of a worry than ever for people on tight budgets and limited incomes.
Combined with additional pressures of Christmas; it’s no surprise that Birmingham Settlement is already seeing an increase in people needing its free debt and money counselling services.
Martin Holcombe, CEO says, “We know it’s difficult but there’s no need to feel additional pressure at this time of year. We really can help people to prioritise and get their finances working efficiently to suit their needs.”
“We’d encourage everyone to be careful, over £2.4 billion is spent on unwanted presents at this time of year – so why not come to one of our charity shops, or another charity you wish to support; spend far less than on the high street and find some lovely, unusual things that people really could use – a charity shop challenge!”
Tashala has been involved with Birmingham Settlement for over a decade and has used multiple services provided by us. “I got to know Birmingham Settlement originally when I took a course to develop basic skills. I later began using the Nursery to help with raising my daughter. I had been using the shop in Erdington for a while but at the time I didn’t realise they were part of the same thing. I went in after completing my course and began volunteering.” Tashala volunteered in our shops in Erdington, Wylde Green and occasionally Sutton Coldfield.
From there Tashala’s experience grew and she started to get more involved, she told us. “The shop was a great way to buy affordable things for my daughter. She was the best dressed child in school! Going into the shop allowed me to get away from things and was and is a great place to take my kids.”
“I later encountered financial issues and sought money advice from Birmingham Settlement too. The help they gave me was fantastic. Thirty minutes of advice did so much compared to other help I’ve received. It was a lot of stress because it’s difficult when looking for help. They sorted it all out and made me like I didn’t need to worry.”
“I’ve been involved with Birmingham Settlement since before my daughter could walk, and now she loves it too.” Having recently turned fourteen, Tashala’s daughter now volunteers with us in our shop in Erdington too.
Tashala found a job whilst volunteering with us and has since stopped volunteering , but she still help out when she can.
“Birmingham Settlement helped me a lot. The charity is very dear to me and my daughter and helped me to believe in myself.”
The Universal Credit debate is hotting up as we move closer to the full implementation of this new system. The Children’s Society have raised concerns that the changes made to eligibility to “Free School Meals” will actually counter the ethos of the new system. Universal Credit is designed to streamline benefits and make working “always” the better option for people. BBC Radio 4 aired these concerns and presented the Society’s claim that an income gap will occur and that some families who enter the job market will actually be worse off. The loss of free school meals will mean that working actually “doesn’t pay” and that some children will go without their only hot meal of the day. As advisers at Birmingham Settlement we’ve always factored in “Free School Meals” and the cost of travel to and from work when we assess benefits for our clients. You can see the full article here.