How would you rate your understanding of pensions for zero to ten?

This is how one of our volunteers, Gavin, started the pilot of our latest development project - ‘Pensions Made Easy?’ I wonder how you would answer this? Most of our group of residents from the Leighswood Estate in Walsall we’re quite unassuming about their knowledge, giving themselves scores of two to four, but as the workshop progressed I soon realised that they knew much more than me!! This is so often the case. We find it in our Cash Smart, Credit Savvy and UCSavvy sessions that when people get together and start to talk about finance special things happen:

1) Firstly people feel empowered. They realise that what they know and have been brave enough to share, is actually really helpful to others.

2) By listening to others and sharing their experiences, attendees are able to discuss and learn new things.

3) Through this, they are empowered to make small or sometimes large changes in their personal finances and they are motivated to share these with those around them.

4) The sessions can’t happen without the right people and the partnerships we develop are key to this. We were delighted to run the session with our long-standing partners The THOMAS Project. This Christian hub in a shop at the heart of the estate is a one-stop-shop of practically ‘loving your neighbour’. The supportive and dedicated staff and volunteer team provide support, a listening ear, counselling, prayer, a Foodbank, a Place of Welcome and like today - free training. It’s a regular venue for our Just Finance Black Country worker Rev Cassius Francis, who regularly runs Cash Smart, Credit Savvy and UCSavvy sessions in partnership with the THOMAS Project team.

Cassius remarked, “This was an excellent session about pensions. Gavin demystified a subject that if often presented as complex - he gave understandable information, answered questions sensitively and enabled everyone to share openly about their own experiences.”

Attendees reactions

At the end of the session, it was great to gather peoples thoughts:

Alison* explained: “I was floundering a bit - where to start and what to do. With pensions there is a huge mass of info, but now I know where to start. It’s given me hope.”
Jane* commented: “I’ve been tempted to stop my pension, as I could do a lot with that £100 per month, but now I know that I need to keep going with it.”

* Real names changed for confidentiality *

Next steps...

The team will now do a further fine-tune of the workshop and we’ll publish more sessions on our events page next year -

For more information on Just Finance Black Country, contact Cassius.