The South East Debt Forum was re-launched in 2016 by the Communities Team and Public Health, as a forum for local partners across the south and south east of the city to, come together around debt and related issues, such as mental health.
Following a workshop in April 2016, we came up with our aims. These are:
- Sharing information
- Linking into local and campaigns
- Making the service local
- Reducing stigma
- Breaking the cycle
Since the re-launch of the forum, partners have watched informative presentations from:
- Acts 435 (a resource for charities serving those in need)
- Christians Against Poverty
- Warmth for Wellbeing
- White Rose Energy
- Glasspool Charitable Trust
- Leeds City Council Welfare Rights
Intelligence from the Illegal Money Lending Team, elected members and local organisations flagged up that Middleton Park ward is a hotspot for illegal money lenders.
So on Monday 27th March we launched our first campaign – Stop Loan Sharks, to promote the new Stop Loan Sharks website, which makes it easier to report online and find information and support about loan sharks. This was launched by Councillor’s Blake, Groves and Truswell at the St Georges Centre on Monday 27th March and covers the Belle Isle and Middleton area.
Press releases, including one in South Leeds Life helped us to promote the campaign launch.
Using a specially created postcard, we leafleted 2,300 homes in streets identified by local councillors. The postcard also promoted the help and advice available from organisations in Belle Isle and Middleton around debt, managing your money and good sources of credit. These include BITMO, Leeds Credit Union, Money Buddy’s and St Georges Centre Hub.
Partner organisations will help us to evaluate the success of the campaign by letting us know if they experience an increase in demand, due to the promotion.
Many thanks to BITMO, Leeds City Credit Union, Groundwork, LCC Housing, LCC Community Hubs and elected members who helped us deliver leaflets in Belle Isle and Middleton.
The Stop Loan Sharks Postcard
This has proved to be one of the most successful aspects of the debt forum, with forum members reporting that networking with partner organisations regularly, has been invaluable for signposting and helping to increase mutual referrals between services. For instance, Acts 435 (a charity that facilitates donations from ordinary people, to individuals in need) has seen a big increase in referrals from LCC Housing.
Suggestions for future themes include:
- The link between debt and mental health
- Substance/alcohol abuse
- TV licensing
- Breaking the cycle
- Universal Credit
- The benefit cap
For information about our next meeting, or to message us on Facebook, please click @southeastdebtforum
Please keep checking this page for updates.