Project teaching young care leavers financial literacy wins £30k prize

LHF-London Homelessness Awards 2021-Union Chapel

MyBnk training assistant and former Money House participant Tekisha Henry, front, with representatives from the charity and London deputy mayor of housing Tom Copley. - Credit: Jo Mieszkowski

A homelessness prevention project providing financial education to care leavers and vulnerable young adults about to move into social housing has scooped an award.

The Money House, run by charity MyBnk and based in Canning Town, won the first prize of £30,000 at the London Homelessness Awards 2021.

MyBnk says its winning project, which teaches participants how to best manage their tenancy and finances, has seen a 64pc drop in evictions for users at risk of becoming homeless.

It puts young people in a simulated living environment over a one-week course based in a real flat.

The unique setting is staffed by financial experts and former participants who design and deliver sessions to teach the young people everything they need to know to keep their tenancy. 

They focus on survival money management skills, understanding systems, planning for the future, and reducing financial exclusion.

Newham Council has made the course a mandatory part of its youth housing pathway.

Head of young adult education at MyBnk, Nick Smith-Patel, said: “This project has so much potential, we're just scratching the surface - every young Londoner moving into independent living needs this experience.

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“When it comes to homelessness, prevention is always cheaper than the cure and this award recognises the power of just-in-time intervention to stop a young person from becoming another bad statistic.

“We'll be putting much of the award fund into meeting the needs of unaccompanied asylum seekers - a growing cohort."

In the UK, a third of care leavers lose their first home and 83pc of evictions are caused by rent arrears.

London Housing Foundation’s Ian Brady, who chaired the judging panel for this year’s awards, said: “We are proud to be able to support MyBnk and the other five shortlisted projects.

“They show that the homelessness sector in London is full of innovative, creative projects doing their best for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.”

The Money House takes free open referrals for people aged 16 to 25 to attend the course, which is run in Newham, Greenwich, Haringey and Westminster.

It is funded by the Berkeley and JP Morgan Chase Foundations and Pimco.