Just Finance London

The Background

Financial distress has a hugely detrimental effect both on individuals and on local communities. The problem has two key dimensions; it is both systemic and personal. In system terms, the issue is the availability and quality of financial services and products that meet people’s needs.

The Just Finance Foundation building on the Church Credit Champions Network pilot is a comprehensive response to these issues. The Just Finance Foundation aims to unlock the resources of local churches to strengthen financial resilience in communities through support for community finance, signposting to debt and money advice and building financial capability.

THE Context

• In the three years leading to 2014; 2.25 million Londoners lived in poverty, slightly higher than a decade earlier. (Source)

• 17.4% of people living in London were classed as being “over indebted” - regularly struggling to keep up with financial commitments and missing at least 3 bill payments in last 6 months.(Source)

• Over half a million Londoners have problems with debt. With those in debt owing more on credit cards, loans and other credit debts than anywhere else in the country. Londoners also have higher arrears on essential bills and face a greater struggle to make ends meet. (Source)

More than 1 in 3 of clients seeking help with debt in London were in rent arrears. The amount of rent they owed was half as much again as the UK average (Source)

The number of working-age adults in poverty in London has increased from 1.1 million to 1.4 million in the past decade. (Source)

21% of people living in London are paid below the London Living Wage. (Source)

The Rt Revd Adrian Newman

The Rt Revd Adrian Newman The Bishop of Stepney

“In the UK 7 million people are currently hooked into high-cost borrowing. 1 million people take out a payday loan each month. Levels of personal debt have spiralled beyond what most of us think is healthy or wise in a civilised society. And the human cost of all of this is felt in increasing ill-health (physical and mental), relationship breakdown, and fractured communities. Something needs to change if we are to flourish.

So, one very simple aim of the Just Finance Network is to stimulate the community finance sector, and to increase the general public’s knowledge, understanding and use of it. The church is well-placed to support this – we are integral to local neighbourhoods, we’re in it for the long term, and we have a gospel imperative to work for justice and the flourishing of our communities.

So I’m on a mission to try and convince Christians and churches that supporting the community finance sector is one of the most significant aspects of Christian mission we can engage in.

As the theologian and pastor Helmut Thielicke once said: ‘our cheque books have more to do with heaven and hell than our hymn books’.

I hope that parishes across London will engage seriously with the issue of money, which affects people’s lives more significantly that anything else. The Just Finance Network can help you know where to begin, and make a practical difference in people’s lives.”

Meet Alison Tsang

In April 2017 Alison Tsang joined Capital Mass to lead our work here in the Diocese of London. Alison will help to unlock the resources of churches and community organisations in the Diocese of London and build local partnerships to create a visible, effective and accessible community responses across the Diocese.

Alison’s Four Focuses

Practicalities

  • Supporting parishes in their existing work as they tackle debt and financial exclusion
  • Training and supporting clergy and lay leaders to mobilise action at a local level
  • Being a point of reference for parishes/deaneries on matters of debt and financial exclusion

Partnerships

  • Brokering mutually beneficial relationships between parishes/deaneries and partner organisations which will lead to greater participation from parishes/deaneries in addressing debt and financial exclusion
  • Establishing key alliances with key partners across London and the UK to amplify our impact
  • Connecting parishes/deaneries to Community Finance Providers and Money Advice Services with the aim to raise awareness and participation

Politics

  • Using our lobbying power as an insistent voice for those struggling with debt
  • Ensuring the voice of those affected is heard and not forgotten
  • Mobilising the diocesan networks behind key messages and possible opportunities

Prayer

  • Ensuring that our response has deep roots, grounded in and reflecting our Christian faith
Alison Tsang

Alison Tsang Just Finance Foundation London Development Worker

If your parish is involved or wants to get involved them please contact Alison:

Email: alison@capitalmass.org.uk

Call: 07864 876323

Twitter: @JFFLondon