Lack of basic numeracy and money management skills are major problems for homeless people. If even partially resolved, such issues can make a significant contribution to help individuals get their lives back on track and increase their chances of securing long term accommodation. As KPMG had developed the ‘Get Cents’ money management skills programme for early school-levers, we believed we could adapt the programme for those hoping to make the transition from a position of homelessness and develop staff skills at the same time.
In early 2010, our staff volunteers tailored the KPMG ‘Get Cents’ material for a new audience. In the pilot, thirty-one men residing in Depaul’s Back Lane hostel attended the three-session programme to learn about the importance of managing money, how to draw up a household budget, how to manage bill payments, the importance of saving, typical household cupboard necessities and the importance of shopping around for best value. There have been two subsequent follow on courses taught with Depaul Ireland residents. KPMG volunteers delivered the course material in a hands-on, interactive way. Core to the success of this initiative is that our volunteers build up a trusting relationship with the residents in a ‘mentor style’ approach.
Adapting the material from our existing ‘Get Cents’ course aimed at early school leavers to meet the needs of those preparing for independent living was challenging. We worked closely with Depaul Ireland to understand the barriers faced by homeless people around managing their money and we developed ideas on how to overcome these barriers. Harness the expertise and enthusiasm of staff to develop a programme to meet the needs of a marginalised group. Our staff is experts in finance and this project was ideal for them to use their skill-set to benefit those in need.
KPMG staff got to develop their skills-set in terms of giving presentations develops interpersonal skills and learn what it means to be a mentor. Our staff got a big insight into the difficulties faced by a marginalised group in society. All the volunteers who taught the courses were very enthusiastic and enjoyed the experience.
According to Sandra Losty, the Life Skills Worker at Depaul, “It has been brilliant to see the guys asking questions about their own finances which shows they are really thinking about things. Finding out that they didn’t actually need a utility bill to open a post office account was very positive for the whole group, as they previously believed this service was closed to them while living in a hostel.”