Anti-Poverty Week – Salvos Moneycare reduces the stress
Throughout the Hunter and Central Coast regions of NSW, Majors Fran and Mark Everitt provide a range of support to a wide and interconnected network of Salvos churches, teams and services. These, in turn, come alongside local community members in need. Fran explains why The Salvation Army’s Moneycare service is an essential part of this life-changing network.
Major Fran Everitt remembers feeling uncharacteristically angry several years ago upon learning of a recently widowed pensioner struggling financially due to debt on multiple credit cards. His wife had managed all the family budgets, and he hadn’t understood the extent of their debt.
The cards had each been taken out, despite a very limited income from the pension, in an attempt to cover the interest payments on the previous card.
“My first emotion, when I found out, was anger – particularly at the card providers for allowing this to happen to vulnerable older people,” Fran shares. “There can be such a sense of shame around debt, but it can happen so easily. Credit can be an awful trap.”
Easing financial stress
Fran was able to organise for the pensioner, who was clearly not coping with both financial and emotional stress, to speak with a Salvos Moneycare counsellor. The counsellor helped him through financial counselling, developed a money plan (budget), and negotiated with the card providers. Eventually, the debt was fully cleared.
“This elderly gentleman, who was grieving the loss of his wife, felt overwhelmed because he also felt trapped in debt. After his first appointment with the wonderful financial counsellor, he felt so relieved,” Fran says. “In many ways, it changed his life.
“He became an enthusiastic saver in the years that followed and told me he only wished his wife could have been spared the burden of worry about debt in her final years. He wished they had known about Moneycare earlier.”
According to the 2021-22 Moneycare Outcome Measurement Annual Report, Moneycare supported more than 12,000 people Australia-wide. Of those asked about the impact, 93 per cent reported that Moneycare had an overall positive effect on their circumstances. Sixty-one per cent had their financial difficulties resolved through the support.
Fran explains that many Salvation Army services, including Moneycare and Doorways (which offers urgent financial relief and holistic case management with referrals) are increasingly located together on shared sites. This allows community members with a range of needs to seek support at a single site, reducing stress and travel.
Fran says this ease of assistance is more important than ever given the current cost-of-living crisis.
“What we’re hearing and seeing are people who have full-time jobs but aren’t able to meet mortgage and rental payments because costs are rising in every area,” Fran shares.
“We’re seeing so many more people from various walks of life in need. While our services can’t meet every need, we continually hear stories of people who have been assisted by our network of services – including Moneycare and Doorways – who return when their lives are more stable to say thank you, or volunteer, or donate to help others.”
For Fran, hearing of lives transformed and hope restored is one of the most enjoyable aspects of her role.
She says, “It’s quite beautiful and encouraging to see the light of hope come on in people’s eyes and hearts when they had previously felt hopeless and overwhelmed.
“I feel very privileged and blessed to support the teams in any way I can, and they are in turn supporting people in the greatest need. That support really does change lives. I’m sure it saves lives too!”
For more information on Anti-Poverty Week and resources, go to MySalvos here