- New Kent Money Advice Hub launches as need for debt advice grows
A new Kent Money Advice Hub is being launched today, 28 November 2022, to support people who are struggling financially or need help to manage the increasing cost of living.
The service is available for anyone who is worried about money and aims to encourage those who may be reluctant to come forward for money advice to take the first step.
Research* from Citizens Advice shows that in the three months to September 2022, the number of people needing debt advice grew by 16%. The pressing debt issues** concerning people in the past year have centred on fuel debts, council tax arrears, rent arrears and credit and store card debts.
The Money Advice Hub is a pilot led by Citizens Advice in North and West Kent, in partnership with a network of Citizens Advice offices in Kent, Debt Free London and funded by Kent County Council’s Helping Hands Scheme.
Free and confidential, advice is accessed via a range of digital channels including WhatsApp, video calling and messaging, on top of the traditional phone service plus Hub kiosks have been located within a number of communities.
People can access the Kent Money Advice Hub by visiting www.kentmoneyadvicehub.com or calling 0800 808 5622 or from kiosks which have been installed in the following locations:
- Gravesend Civic Centre, Windmill St, Gravesend. Open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
- Cliftonville Community Centre, St. Paul’s Rd, Margate. Open Mon, Wed, Fri 9.30am-3.30pm and Tue 9.30-1pm
- Aylesham BeChange at Aylesham Community Workshop Trust, The Old School, Ackholt Rd. Open Mon-Thu 8am-9pm and Fri 8am-5pm
- Ramsgate Salvation Army Centre, 167A High St. Open Mon, Wed, Fri 9am to 12 noon and Tue and Fri 8am to 12 noon
- The Willow Children’s Centre, Brookfield Rd, Ashford. Open 9am to 4.30pm Mon, Wed and Fri and 8.30am to 4.30pm Tue and Thu.
Most are in private spaces, but where kiosks are located in public spaces, there is an option to arrange an appointment by visiting www.kentmoneyadvicehub.com, or contacting the Money Advice Hub on 0800 808 5622 by phone or WhatsApp.
Money advice is not just about dealing with debt, it includes looking at the causes of money issues and can help people if they lack sufficient income to meet household costs, have difficulty budgeting effectively, are threatened with homelessness or have had a family breakdown. All money-related worries can be raised at the Hub.
Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council, said:
“The cost of living crisis means more people than ever before need help, advice and support regarding money.
“We know concerns over financial circumstances can lead to stress, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. This excellent non-judgmental service is about finding a practical way forward.
“By utilising a range of digital resources, people can access the new Money Advice Hub in a way that works for them. We’re confident people in Kent will benefit from this free community-based service, a lifeline which makes the most of technology to help tackle money issues.”
Connie, Debt Advisor, Citizens Advice, added:
“More and more people in Kent are facing significant financial challenges because of the rising cost of living. We know that the poorest and more vulnerable people in society are being hit hardest, but we are also seeing those on low and middle incomes struggling to adapt to the need to budget. People have used their savings to cope during the pandemic and now don’t have the financial cushion to cope with rising costs.”
Angela Newey, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice in North and West Kent, commented:
“We’re pleased to be leading this new project in Kent. It will support people before they get into debt as well as helping those who are already unable to meet day to day costs. We’re urging anyone who is even slightly worried about money to look for help sooner rather than later. Taking that first step and asking for help is often the hardest part, but by acting now and getting in touch, many people could avoid going into crisis.”
For more cost of living support visit https://www.kent.gov.uk/leisure-and-community/cost-of-living-support
For further information and interview requests please contact Alessandra McKenna on 07967 976652 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editor
Citizens Advice in North and West Kent (CANWK) is leading the Kent Money Advice Hub pilot project, funded by Kent County Council’s Helping Hands Scheme, working alongside Citizens Advice Thanet, Citizens Advice Canterbury, Citizens Advice Maidstone, Citizens Advice Swale and Citizens Advice Shepway, Citizens Advice Edenbridge & Westerham, Paddock Wood Advice Centre and Debt Free London.
The pilot will run from 28 November 2022 until 28 February 2023.
The funding for this pilot project has been secured through the Helping Hands Scheme which was set up to help families and businesses hit hardest by the pandemic. The Helping Hands Scheme is £10m programme funded from government Covid Emergency Grants.
* Over the last 3 months, local Citizens Advice have seen a 16% increase in the number of clients needing debt advice. (Source: Citizens Advice client records (Casebook database). ‘Topline Figures’ report, 3 months to September 2022.)
* * Citizens Advice have supported over 4,500 Kent residents with debt issues in the last 12 months. Of these, the top debt issues were:
- Fuel Debts
- Council Tax Arrears
- Rent Arrears
- Credit Card and Store Card debts
(Source: Citizens Advice client records (Casebook database). ‘CL6 – Key Stats’ 1/10/21 to 31/10/22)
- Social tariffs ensure no one is left behind in the digital age
A new campaign has been launched to help close the digital divide between Kent families who cannot afford access to digital services and those who can.
Kent County Council (KCC) is raising awareness of the social tariffs, which are discounted broadband deals offered to eligible households in need of financial support with their broadband services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the reliance on digital communications so that people can stay connected to their loved ones and their communities, work and maintain an income, access vital services and benefit from digital educational resources.
The cost of living is ever increasing, this includes broadband prices too. To enable people in need to access cheaper deals, discounted broadband packages are being made available to save eligible households in the range of £150 per year.
Leader of Kent County Council, Roger Gough, said “It is vital that no one should be left behind in today’s digital age, which is why we want to raise awareness of the support and discounted rates for families who cannot currently access digital services.
“We know that digital connectivity is no longer a luxury but a fundamental need. This was hugely highlighted by the pandemic, as restrictions forced us all to rely more heavily on an already digital reliant world.
“However, too many people in Kent still have no access to the internet. Working with our Digital Kent team, we want to support anyone who is in receipt of a qualifying benefit to subscribe to a broadband social tariff so they can connect to the services that they need.”
Statistics show that only 1.2% of those eligible for a broadband or mobile social tariff have one, which has led to Government calling on providers to make available and promote discounted deals for people on Universal Credit and other benefits.
KCC established Digital Kent in 2021 as part of the Helping Hands scheme, which was set up to help families and businesses hit hardest by the pandemic. The Helping Hands scheme allocated £2.5 million to tackle digital exclusion in Kent and a further £2.5 million was allotted from the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) for digital inclusion.
Our Digital Kent team are managing a number of projects, initiatives and schemes to improve digital inclusion and capability and are here to help anyone with advice and support.
You can find out more information here www.kent.gov.uk/socialtariffs.
- Connecting with the past through memory boxes – National Adoption Week 2022
We have just marked National Adoption Week 2022, which this year focused on the theme of identity.
The national ‘You Can Adopt’ campaign has been showing how important it is for adopted people to be able to understand and feel connected to their past, often in the form of memory boxes which contain physical keepsakes such as letters, photographs and childhood toys.
A special film has been released which explores adopted people’s memories from before, during and after their adoption, discussing how these make them who they are today. The emotional interviews demonstrate how identity has been formed through various powerful connections in the participants’ lives including birth families, foster carers, friends and adoptive parents.
You can watch it here.
Sarah Skinner, Head of Service for Adoption Partnership South East (APSE), said: “I am delighted to fully endorse the focus of National Adoption Week on recognising the significance of identity for children who are adopted. We understand just how important this is to people; our adoption teams provide advice and support around identity to adopters during their adoption journey and to parents who are parenting adopted children.”
APSE is a Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) comprising of London Borough of Bexley, Kent County Council and Medway Council. If you would like to find out more about the services APSE provide, please visit https://www.adoptionpartnershipsoutheast.org.uk/
Or go to the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AdoptionPartnership/
To find out more about National Adoption Week or to seek information or support, visit www.youcanadopt.co.uk/naw
- A new podcast from You Can Adopt, featuring presenter Ashley John Baptiste and adopted adult Jamal, has also been launched for National Adoption Week exploring the issues of identity, birth relatives, and the relationships developed along the adoption journey. Listen here
- Illicit tobacco and counterfeit goods seized at Maidstone shops
Businesses suspected of selling illicit tobacco, vapes and counterfeit goods have been inspected in a joint operation by KCC Trading Standards and the Maidstone Town Centre Task Force.
On Wednesday 17 August 2022, four town centre shops were targeted in Week Street, Lower Stone Street and Knightrider Street.
Total seizures included more than 15,000 cigarettes, almost seven kilos of rolling tobacco and 1,025 vapes. Some of the items had been concealed and in one location a large quantity of tobacco was recovered from bins at the rear of the premises.
The teams were also alert for counterfeit goods and from one of the businesses, officers recovered more than 1,300 items including phone accessories, watches, jewellery and clothing.
KCC’s Principal Trading Standard’s Officer Oliver Jewell said: “Trading Standards have been working with local retailers to advise on disposable vape devices but have identified a small number of retailers who continue to sell illegal vapes. These have not been subject to the strict safety measures we have to ensure that these products are as safe as can be established as an alternative to smoking.
“Illegal tobacco brings crime into your neighbourhood and is affordable for young people and for those who would otherwise use price as an incentive to quit smoking.
“We will continue to work with partner agencies to target shops who persistently sell either product and consider all means at our disposal to ensure a safe high street.”
Inspector Dave Crompton, of the Maidstone Community Safety Unit, said: ‘As part of our ongoing work against organised criminal groups, my officers regularly work with Trading Standards teams to identify businesses which might be involved in illegal activity, such as money laundering and human trafficking.
‘We also target those premises selling illicit tobacco and counterfeit goods as they often attract anti-social behaviour and other criminal activity. The businesses also have a detrimental impact on legitimate local traders and our inspections will continue while the Trading Standards investigation is underway.’
Shops selling illegal tobacco can be reported anonymously through 0300 999 6 999 or by visiting www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk
- For more information, email email@example.com or call 07971 950880.
- Kent Community Archaeologist receives Marsh Award
Kent County Council’s (KCC) Community Archaeologist Andrew Mayfield has been honoured at the Marsh Community Archaeology Awards 2022.
Run in partnership with the Council for British Archaeology and celebrating individuals who carry out exceptional archaeological work within their communities and who help to sustain cultural heritage for future generations, Andrew went home with the Community Archaeologist of the Year prize.
The award was presented for the first time in 2014 and recognises an individual who has inspired others to share their love of archaeology and promote the heritage of their local area.
Andrew’s archaeological career began as a volunteer before he studied the subject at university. He joined KCC in 2004, becoming the community archaeologist for the Heritage Conservation Team in 2009. Since then, he has sought to encourage and support others who wish to get involved in the field.
The 44-year-old, has successfully obtained National Lottery Heritage Fund grants for projects developed with and for local volunteers based on their interests.
He continues to support the incredible work of the Shorne Woods Archaeology Group, is President of the Isle of Thanet Archaeological Society, a Young Archaeologist Club leader and a Trustee of the Enabled Archaeology Foundation.
Andrew said: “I am very humbled to receive this award that recognises my work across Kent and for the Royal Parks at Greenwich. I love being a community archaeologist, working with the public, volunteers and schools to explore the archaeology of the county.
“I also see the award as a recognition of the work of the amazing volunteers that I collaborate with, particularly the team at Shorne Woods, who do so much to explore and promote the heritage of one of our brilliant country parks.”
KCC’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Environment, Tony Hills, said: “I was delighted to hear Andrew had been presented with this award, which reflects the hard work and dedication he puts into his role.
“Many people benefit from Andrew’s knowledge and enthusiasm, and he encourages all to get involved by ensuring access, adapting to meet individual needs and actively finding ways to make sure anyone who is interested in archaeology can participate.”
You can follow Andrew on Twitter – @archaeologykent
Notes to editors:
- Full award details are available here: https://www.marshcharitabletrust.org/award/marsh-community-archaeologist-of-the-year-award/