The latest project from the team responsible for STEP (Support to Engage Programme) is Money$mart. This  community-focussed project is based in Auchinleck but is open to residents in the entire surrounding area including Cumnock, Catrine, Logan/Lugar, Muirkirk, Mauchline and the smaller communities in the area.

Through the Money$mart project, the friendly, knowledgeable advisor will assist residents to become more financially confident, better informed and financially better off.

I met with Paul McKenzie, Money$mart Advisor, to find out more about the project.

“Our approach is to look at three areas: maximising income, planning and informing.

“We will assist to maximise income by ensuring you are claiming your full Benefits Entitlement. We will also help you to look at how you can save on a range of everyday bills, to help tackle fuel poverty.

“We will help you to create realistic budgets and an individual financial support plan for surviving while living on benefits and moving into work. We’ll also offer support with online banking and opening current/savings accounts with credit union, including assistance with completing forms. This will increase confidence when dealing with financial matters and future planning.

“We can discuss the advantages of reducing personal debt and sensible use of credit, whilst pointing out the risk of particular products. We will explain the roles of, and assist you to find, financial advice experts should you need further advice.

“We want to make sure that our clients are in charge of their finances and can make informed, responsible choices.”

Money$mart is funded by the RBS Skills and Opportunities Fund. The fund is offered by Royal Bank of Scotland as they want to help build better communities for everyone. They fund projects that enable people in disadvantaged communities to develop, create or access the skills and opportunities they need to build their financial capability skills or to start or develop a new business now or in the future.

Development Manager Stephen McCarron celebrates receiving the funding from RBS.

Our Money$mart advisor, alongside our Community Welfare Champion, are in Muirkirk Learning Centre on Mondays and Thursdays 10am-2pm, Catrine CEVIC on Wednesdays 12:30pm-2:30pm and Auchinleck Boswell Centre on Fridays 9am-12noon.

For more information, or to arrange a one-to-one appointment, call 01290 428 477 or 07564 004 249. If you can’t come to us, we can meet you in a location more suitable for you.

ACDI Treasurer Evelyn Robertson celebrates the organisation’s success.