The Signs of Hope Experience
Signs of Hope is that safe place
- to come and repair your finances
- for help to manage money well, both day to day and through significant life events
- to be equipped to handle periods of financial difficulty
Our favourite client quote, where her daughter saw the change in her after an initial meeting, was told, “mum, you’ve got your ‘mojo’ back”. We find that being generous with our attention and expertise helps clients get back on top of their finances, and leads to a more lasting recovery.
There’s nothing great about money worries. Missed payments, chasing letters or phone calls, can all lead to sleepless nights, anxiety and even pressure on relationships. We may carry a strong sense of failure, of letting others down. For some this has an adverse effect on mental health, and many will suffer from low self-esteem.
Signs of Hope wants to encourage early action – a conversation or enquiry at an early stage that may prevent money worries escalating into something more critical. We know that pride and shame get in the way of a timely conversation; we know and we understand. That’s why we make ourselves as accessible as possible, at regular Drop Ins and occasional community events, for a confidential chat.
When is the best time to get advice when troublesome debts run out of control? The answer is ‘today’? It might also have been 3 months ago or more but we can’t travel back in time, nor dwell on decisions we may well do differently if only we had a time machine. At Signs of Hope we think clients that are ready to work with our advice as strong people making wise choices, even if they don’t feel very strong or wise at the time.
Our independent, face-to-face debt advice is available to those referred to us through approved funding routes only – we don’t currently have an option for self-referral. Please see Resources: Hope in your Community for details of where we are able to take referrals.
Just as money difficulties infects many aspects of our home and work life, the experience of Signs of Hope advice transforms lives:
- Finding hope when it all feels hopeless
- Rebuilding self-esteem and confidence in financial capability
- Healthier mental health, with lower stress and anxiety
- Improved sense of wellbeing as loneliness and isolation are reduced
Our client-attentive advisers have the expertise, authority and resources to help clients deal with all their debts. We know clients may feel weary from their struggles with money, and may need to borrow some of our energy. There are some tasks that a client is ready to do immediately, and some tasks that clients will be ready to take on later, on their journey to regaining control of their finances. Our adviser will often negotiate with creditors on your behalf, and whatever the best option to tackle the debts, our will remain alongside you on your journey to recovery.
There are times when part of the solution to a balanced budget is for a client to be paid all the welfare benefits that they are entitled to. Signs of Hope clients have access to the expertise and attentive care of our great friends at Disability Support Project (DSP) for amazing support in welfare benefits. In particular, DSP help:
- form filling service
- accompany you to assessments
- representation at tribunal hearings
Pressing the reset button on finances that have become chaotic is really helpful (regaining control of troublesome debt) but the most successful recoveries are where people change how they manage their money. Signs of Hope support clients apply practical budgeting skills into their daily lives. There is real freedom to be found in living within a budget. It is nice to have a little more money coming in, but it is healthy to keep a check on our attitude and choices with money to make sure we stay in control.
When sharing budgeting skills, one-to-one or in group courses, Signs of Hope reveal tools & techniques, and practices & habits, that help to create a budget; manage bill payments and cash; and make moment-by-moment decisions that help to stay within the budget.
Check out the Resources section for information on the next course near you.
Resilience means having money set aside for these expenses, and being able to keep enjoying the freedom that comes from living within a budget. However this may be easier said than done. It is not easy to suddenly increase income. Wherever possible, Signs of Hope adviser recommend setting aside a little each week or month for the kind of expenses we know are coming, like that busy month of family birthdays. If possible, it’s really helpful to have a small amount of money set aside for truly unexpected costs.
We understand that just making it from one week or month to the next might be reason to celebrate for some, and being able to set money aside regularly for future expense may be asking too much. It’s really important to not settle for ‘just about managing’, and as soon as possible to start a habit of saving, even if it’s just a small amount to begin with.
Later this year, Signs of Hope will look to share more ideas to help people living within a budget. We will update this page when we have news of events that reveal successful techniques for financial resilience, and we hope to add hints & tips for financial resilience in the Resources section.
Our money advice services follow these principles.
- offer help to all who may benefit, regardless of their race, religion, colour, gender or disability
- be impartial and independent of any government department or political party
- give our services completely free of charge to clients, with the cost of advice met from other funding sources
- be non-judgmental and give advice regardless of how debts have arisen
- keep all our dealings with you completely confidential
- respect your right and ability to make your own decisions
- have a written complaints procedure
- handle your records in a way which complies to the Data Protection Act
- be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority
- hold all appropriate insurances including professional indemnity and public liability cover
We will not:
- do anything which we know to be fraudulent or break the law in any way
- try to recover money owed to you by individuals or companies
- give legal advice nor will we help you sue anyone for damages
- give references for you
- give advice on investment shares (financial advice)
- give advice on business debts of any kind
This service is provided without obligation, and we reserve the right to close a case if we believe there to be on-going fraudulent or criminal activity.
Signs of Hope is grateful for all supporters, and in these times when funding is in short supply, we are especially grateful for the following organisations and individuals for their kind financial and practical support. Without the funding from these supports we would not have been able to help many clients. Thank you.
Worcestershire County Councillors
2012 to 2016
- Joe Baker
- Peter Bridle
- Stuart Cross
- Robin Lunn
- REACH & 6 Towns Credit Union
- Church Hill Big Local
- Redditch Borough Council and the Debt & Budgeting Advice Framework
Bromsgrove District Council
- Small Grant scheme
Worcestershire County Councillors
- Simon Geraghty
- Matthew Jenkins
- Ceri Stalker
Communities Learning Trust (CLT)
- Funding delivery of Budgeting courses for 2016 & 2017
Grants, Gifts and Trust Fund
- City Church Worcester
- Harry Payne Trust
Does it work?
We think this is a great way to show the average response from all clients over the last 3 years. Every client’s chart has a different shape, but for each client and for all clients, this approach works well.