Earlier research by Thrive, an initiative of Church Action on Poverty working in the borough of Stockton-on-Tees, carrying out action research and developing solutions to poverty and exclusion, indicated that financial exclusion and debt posed serious challenges for a segment of the population living in deprived neighbourhoods. Despite the presence of advice and support agencies in the area (e.g. Citizens Advice, credit unions, etc.), these households were not being reached. Research also suggested limitations and gaps in the current provision. Therefore, this research aimed to establish whether these issues could be addressed through a targeted programme.
Key research Question
To explore how and to what extent Thrive’s Community Financial Inclusion Project had met its intended objectives of providing practical solutions to those experiencing debt and financial difficulties in Stockton-on-Tees and creating better coordination between agencies.
Summary of activity
Thrive utilised a popular anti-poverty training model, Sustainable Livelihoods (SL), which upskills trainees to understand the different forms and characteristics of poverty and use an asset-based tool to mentor individuals in a holistic way to identify barriers and solutions. In this project, 15 local people were trained to mentor 50 households in the Stockton-on-Tees area over a 12-month period.
The project generated qualitative data and some quantitative data using an action research approach. Data were collected via interviews with households using two main tools: the Livelihoods Baseline Assessment and the Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale. Some quantitative data were gathered on households’ profiles and financial assets. The initial assessments would inform the subsequent practical steps that were implemented. The project recruited a researcher to develop qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure households’ progress.