MyBnk caught up with Laura and Natalie, who front our oldest UK Hub delivering financial education in the South of England, supported by The Quilter Foundation. We talk poverty, money muling and the local challenges facing young people in the large region.

Righto, what are you doing here?

Laura: We’re focusing on creating positive money habits in primary schools, building financial capability with secondary school pupils as they move on to uni and helping young adults move into independent living.

Both Natalie and I are based locally so we’re able to work closely with teachers and youth workers. We understand the struggles they face and the realities of living in a place that out-prices north London in some areas. Everyone thinks the south is a sunny rich riviera but there is real poverty here. Hampshire has many coastal towns with wards that have high levels of deprivation.

Why is this needed?

Natalie: I live in Portsmouth, and it’s easy to see poverty – derelict shops, rough sleepers and lots of crime. Young people are generally quite good at hiding their struggles and often don’t want to speak out in front of their peers. The best insights come from our Money Works sessions. At a recent session around half of the young people remarked that debt collectors or bailiffs had been to their houses. Educating these young people about money will prevent them facing the same issues as their parents.

What have you seen on the frontline?

Natalie: I had one Year 9 pupil tell me they knew a good way for teenagers to make cash…then I realised they were explaining money muling. Luckily, they’d just finished listening to a presentation from ex inmates. When I told them the consequences of being caught, they decided that they’d rather not go to prison! There’s a tendency to think these problems don’t exist outside of the big cities. In reality, vulnerable young people in the South are still exposed to crime.

Laura: A lot of the places we visit are rural and don’t have reliable, cheap transport options. We often find that young people are qualified and motivated but don’t have any reliable way of getting to work, leaving them with fewer options. For this reason, saving for a car can be life changing for many young people in the region. At a recent delivery at the Prince’s Trust, one student said she had no money before but had saved up enough for a car thanks to what she’d learnt.

MyBnk - Hampshire Fire Station

Tell us about yourselves

Natalie: After graduating from the University of Winchester, I gained teaching experience in the Mary Rose Museum and have taught people of all ages, abilities, and educational backgrounds.

I wish I had been told more about how student loans work and finance available, I may have been able to get more money than I did and been able to afford food!

Laura: I’ve always worked in education, teaching maths, science and work skills. I joined MyBnk after two years of Home schooling, with new ideas on how to engage with young people on a topic that’s so important to their futures.

I wish I’d been told more about pensions at school. I would have been able to fully understand what I needed to do to retire at 55, now it could be 65!

What exactly are you delivering and where?

  • ‘Money Twist’ – A series of primary school based sessions for 7-11 year olds focusing on forging positive money habits such as saving and delaying spending gratification. We also deliver a secondary school version.
  • Uni Dosh – An 100 minute programme aimed at 16-18 year olds considering going to university.
  • Money Works – Aimed at 16-25 year olds not in education, employment or training or who are in the Leaving Care system. It deals with survival money management, living independently, banking and borrowing. On average, debts of participants drop by 60%!

We deliver financial education sessions across Hampshire, along with some in Dorset. Our office is based in Southampton, which gives us easy access to the whole county and beyond. The map shows some of our repeat bookings from the last four years.

What’s next?

Laura: Our funders, The Quilter Foundation, have renewed our partnership for another three year period, so we’re able to continue delivering our sessions across the Hampshire region.

We’re very excited! We want to expand our reach into as many new schools as possible and use our repeat schools as excellent examples of how effective our sessions can be. We’ve already reached an impressive 13,368 young people in the region since starting the hub and aim to reach 3,500 people a year going forwards.

Natalie: We’d love to streamline our deliveries so we can offer our full range of programmes to a whole school, to ensure every year group benefits from a session. We’re also looking to strengthen our partnerships with youth organisations.