I had great fun two weeks ago at The Corn Exchange in Edinburgh as a judge at the Lloyds Bank Money for Life Challenge Grand Scottish Final. The competition asks teams from Scotland’s Colleges to put together ideas and projects to improve financial capability in their communities and the final had five teams from all over the country come to do a presentation to the team of judges on the money projects they had chosen. The level of commitment and enthusiasm shown by every member of every team was incredible, and the time that some of the team members had taken to get involved in the challenge, given the otherwise difficult nature of their lives, was humbling.
The winning team, from Fife, were the Bright Young Sparkz. Bright Young Sparkz was set up to help young people, especially young mums between 16 and 24 years, to save money on their energy bills by offering a number of money saving tips. Bright Young Sparkz undertook their project over a three month period having been awarded a £500 grant from Money for Life to put their ideas into action. By winning the Scottish national final they have been awarded £1,000 to donate to the charity of their choice and, as a participant in the grand final in London at the end of May, they are now in with the chance of receiving £3,000 to donate to the registered charity of their choice.
Beth Williams, Teen Parent Project Support Worker, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the team who have all worked extremely hard to make this innovative project a success. We all know how easy it is for young mums to run into financial difficulty so learning some basic rules about money management and how to reduce your energy bills to make their money go further has been extremely worthwhile.
“Not only has the project boosted their confidence but it’s helped them build new friendships.”
Toni Patrick, 20, who has a one year old son, said: “The Money for Life Challenge has been a fantastic experience; I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve learnt simple tips on how to reduce my household bills including turning my TV off at the socket and putting my heating on timer. It is small changes that have made a big difference to my life.
“I’ve also met other young mums from the community who have children of a similar age. We’re so proud to win the Scottish final and hope we can go all the way to win the Money for Life UK Grand Final too.”
Money for Life is one of the core programmes at the heart of Lloyds Banking Group’s aim to help Britain prosper. The Money for Life Challenge in Scotland is run in partnership with Young Scot.
Louise Macdonald at Young Scot said: “We are thrilled that Bright Young Sparkz is our Scottish winner and wish them the best of luck at the UK grand final in May. All of this year’s national finalists have delivered projects across Scotland that tackle real financial issues in their local communities. They have raised financial awareness across the generations whilst learning money management skills themselves. They should be very proud of their efforts and the impact they’ve had.”
They should indeed be very proud of their effort. What stood out for me was the determined way that they went about their tasks, and the motivated way they went about getting their messages across to the communities they had chosen to work with. They understood the importance of the messages they were sending out there, and they realised that there are lots of ordinary folk who are struggling with their money and who need help, but who don’t know where to go to get it. It’s a message that we need to take out to all of our educators and make sure they ensure that money sense is taught in every school and college up and down the country.