Some of our team recently attended a money counts course hosted by NHS Health Improvement Training to better inform and equip them in their work with women, children and young people.
Money can be a difficult topic to talk about…the term “poverty” carries with it a whole lot of stigma. We think of poverty as not being able to meet the costs of very basic necessities (food, fuel, housing), but it is more complex than that. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2017) defined poverty as “when a person’s resources are well below their minimum needs, including the need to take part in society”. It is not just about not being able to meet the costs of very basic necessities and essentials and it is not something that only affects the unemployed. The Poverty & Inequality Commission indicates that when understanding poverty, “poverty statistics in Scotland look at how the lowest income households compare with average income household. A household is considered to be in poverty of less than 60% of the average income for that household type.” We think you might be surprised by some of these statistics…
Did you know that in Scotland…
- 1 in 4 children are living in poverty;
- 1 in 5 working age people are living in poverty;
- 60% of adults and 65% of children living in poverty have at least one person in the household in employment;
Poverty can include food poverty (including “holiday hunger”), fuel poverty, period poverty and in work poverty. It can also include access to things most of us take for granted, such as internet, computer, a usable phone (with credit), among other things.
At CASWA, we are well aware of the financial implications of domestic abuse. Financial abuse is one of many kinds of abuse which may be experienced and the financial impact is one of many wide-ranging ways domestic abuse can impact on individuals and families.
In abusive relationships, financial abuse might look like:
- Taking full control of and decision making around the family’s finances;
- Withholding funds and/or providing only a basic allowance;
- Intense scrutiny of expenditure and control around how money is spent and what it is spent on;
- Loans and debts taken out in the name of the woman;
- Forcing the woman to work numerous jobs, while the perpetrator refuses to work themselves. Then using the money for their own needs, not the families.
- Coercing women to put their money/property into joint names.
- Coercing women to put their money/wages into the perpetrator’s account.
Domestic abuse places extreme pressures on the finances of women and their families.
Thanks to grants and donations received from our generous community and through fundraisers, at CASWA we have a crisis fund which enables us to provide much needed financial support in crisis situations. This ensures that families working with our service are able to, for example, have money for transport to flee domestic abuse, have funds to purchase basic necessities such as food or heat their home, have money in their phone to promote their safety and connect with their support network, among other things. Grants and donations make a real world difference. In March we were able to provide 32 families working with CASWA with vouchers towards food or fuel costs thanks to generous donations! The feedback we have received speaks volumes of the difference this project has made to women and families we are working with:
“The voucher really helped us when we really needed it due to financial difficulty and maintenance being withheld by my abusive ex-partner”
“Thank you so much…[this is a] massive weight of my shoulders”
'It couldn't have come at a better time, I stared crying when I opened the envelope. It’s a god send and the difference it has made is unbelievable. I bought food, electricity, toys for the kids to use in the garden and clothing. This is the first time I have ever been in Tescos shopping and not had to add up all my items on my phone calculator. I have never been able to do that before. Thank you'
Often those we work with have limited material possessions or limited funds for these things. This is one of the reasons our volunteer, Annie, set up The Gift Project. Through The Gift Project, Annie, accepts donations of new or as new items of clothing, toiletries, household items, toys, games and books and creates the most wonderful gift boxes which are provided to women, children and young people fleeing domestic abuse and to those who are in need and need a little extra support. This was a gap in our service we were so aware of, but sadly unable to fulfil as a small team – we are so grateful to Annie for her work on the project. To read more about the Gift Project, see our blog at the bottom of this page.
Other work we have done includes refurbishing our old work mobile phones and chromebooks and providing these to families working with our service. Last year we worked with the Highland Council to identify children and young people who did not have access to electronic devices to enable them to engage with home schooling and ensured that they had what they required. We have also worked with Caithness Voluntary Group’s Adaptive and Collaborative Communities Project team on their Connecting Scotland Project which provided electronic devices with internet to families.
We work closely with other organisations such as the foodbanks (we can refer people we are working with who need emergency food to the food bank by providing a food bank voucher), and Citizen Advice Bureaus (CAB) operating across both counties. Both services play a crucial role in addressing poverty locally and are extremely welcoming and approachable (see contact details at the end).
At the money counts course we attended, we were made aware of a leaflet which has been produced which provides simple steps and lots of information around who can help and how to contact. The leaflet can be downloaded here.
If you need information, support or advice around your finances, please take a look at this leaflet or contact any of the organisations below. If you are working with CASWA, please speak with your worker and we will support you to explore your options.
Other relevant information and contacts:
The Gift Project Blog: https://www.caswa.org.uk/blog/volunteer-week-gift-project-update
East and Central Sutherland CAB (Citizen’s Advice Bureau)
Caithness CAB (Citizen’s Advice Bureau)
North and West Sutherland CAB (Citizen’s Advice Bureau)
Highland Council Welfare Support Team
0800 090 1004
Caithness Foodbank (contact details including opening times)