We are really excited that Dosh has been shortlisted for the Natwest Skills and Opportunities fund! We have applied for funding to run a series of money and life skills workshops to young people with a learning disability.
Dosh believes that everyone should be able to use their money in the way they want, achieve their goals and live independent lives.
Moving to your own home, getting your first job, or planning the next stage of your life is an exciting and challenging time for any young person. ‘Your money, Your life’ will be a series of workshops across the Midlands and East of England to help young people with a learning disability become more confident with money.
Managing money can be complex and inaccessible, particularly when you have to deal with financial contracts, banks and the benefits system for the first time. These barriers can get in the way of young people with a learning disability developing the money skills and confidence they need to live independently.
Dosh workshops will make learning about money fun and friendly by using accessible tools and games to teach life skills like budgeting, saving and paying bills. Over the course of four workshops, each of the groups of young people will gain knowledge and confidence around money which will help them in their adult life.
Dosh wants people with a learning disability to have more control over their money so they can live happy, independent lives. We’re grateful to the Natwest fund for the opportunity to launch this new project and help young people with a learning disability at this key point of transition in their lives.
But this can only happen if you vote for us, so please go to the Natwest Skills and Opportunities fund website and support us!
Meike Beckford April 6th, 2018
Posted In: News and Blogs
Budgeting can be a really difficult subject for people with a learning disability, as numbers can seem really abstract. It takes a lot of mental steps to connect £10 on a piece of paper with a ten pound note with an understanding of what that can get you in a shop. Let alone thinking about ‘imaginary’ money on a bank card, what happens if you spend more than you have or how interest works!
For many people with a learning disability, the challenges of managing a budget are taken over by their support provider. Because money is an area where people could be very vulnerable to risk or abuse, many support teams safeguard people by having processes such as keeping their bank card and money in a safe, tracking their spending and receipts or only giving them a certain amount of money each day.
Whilst this ensures that people are kept safe, it stops them needing to learn, make mistakes or develop their independence around money.
Dosh has supported Lynn for a number of years and seen her develop her confidence and capability around money. In particular, we have encouraged her to build skills around decision making so that she feels in control of what is happening with her money.
We’ve done this by taking the different steps of making a decision – deciding you want something, looking at options, weighing up pros and cons – and breaking them down into more accessible steps. For example, when working out if something is affordable we use the Money Plan game. This is a really visual, accessible version of a budget where Lynn can move physical counters around a board and decide what she wants to prioritise.
In this way, making financial decisions doesn’t have to involve numbers. It also helps her think not only ‘do I have enough money’ but also ‘what decision will I not be able to make if I make this one?’ The Money Plan game has helped Lynn with everything from picking her weekly activities to deciding to save for a holiday.
Lynn’s support team have also worked with her to increase her independence with her bank card. She recently began to take responsibility for the card, keeping it safe in her room and taking it out with her. She uses the cash machine independently and buys things on her card so that she doesn’t have to worry about carrying large amounts of cash on her. This has also increased her independence as she isn’t relying on staff to ensure she has the correct change.
As Lynn’s story shows, there are lots of imaginative ways to use accessible communication techniques and pre-existing technology to increase people’s financial capability and independence. We don’t need to view budgeting in such a traditional way as only being based on numbers and spreadsheets. Financial capability can be about confidence, attitude, being supported to understand the steps involved in decision making, and many more things.
Rather than having a one-size-fits-all approach to the problems and solutions people with a learning disability face around money, we try to empower each person to set goals and find answers that work for them.
Meike Beckford November 17th, 2017
By Mike Kitcher, Financial Advocate for East Anglia
Our financial advocates work in partnership with over 60 different support providers across the country. One of our advocates in East Anglia, Mike, recently won an award from one of the support providers he works with – Thera East Anglia. The award recognised the great support he providers to local teams and individuals. Here we ask him a bit about the award and his work for Dosh.
What was your background before joining Dosh?
I was working for a support provider in East Anglia and also working with Norfolk County Council Housing Project with My Safe Home, assisting individuals with a learning disability to buy their own homes – 14 were eventually bought. Before that, l worked for Argyll and Bute Council working in the Mental Health team, Children’s Protection Unit and Community Service team.
What made you want to join Dosh?
I was working in a supported living house and the finances were not working out and money had gone missing from a supported person’s bank account.
I made a promise to myself that this would never happen again to anyone l supported
Quirky is fate because the very next week a part-time position was advertised from a company called Dosh. The rest is history.
How did you feel about winning an award for the support you provide in partnership with Thera East Anglia?
My first reaction was embarrassment of having to walk through an auditorium full of people clapping, with support managers giving me a standing ovation, and then go on stage to accept the award from the Chairman of the Board, the Managing Director and Service Quality Director, scary. Once the embarrassment had gone, l felt that the promise l had made earlier to myself had been kept, so I am feeling very proud.
Although the award has my name on it the award includes all the team in the Dosh office who do so much unrecognised by others that enables me to do what l do.
Tell us about a typical day as a financial advocate
Coffee, lots of coffee to start then into the filing system to check the post and plan any actions needed from the post, reply to any emails that have come in with either the answer or an appointment date. Then on the road, if a visit has been arranged. At this time I’m nearly overloaded with the new PIP forms needing completing in all parts of East Anglia. With Dosh annual reviews and money plans taking up a lot of the time at this time of the year, as well as visiting new people to support and new support companies, the time goes by quite quickly.
How do you see your role as a financial advocate? How do you advocate for people?
By applying simple rules. Making sure people have the right amount of money they are entitled too and to safeguard that money to make sure people can get the most out of life that is affordable to them. Would l, as an individual, accept what is being proposed to an individual with a learning disability? If not then l make sure l change it for the individual concerned.
What is the best bit about being a financial advocate?
Slightly odd answer first, it’s great to see the support teams being able to achieve what they want to achieve with individuals. This is brought about by making sure the funds are in place to achieve the hopes and ambitions of all.
What do you feel has been your biggest achievement with Dosh?
Oh that’s one for the people l support l think. But if pushed probably
making sure everyone l support has a good life with enough money to get the best out of life they can.
Meike Beckford April 28th, 2017
Posted In: News and Blogs
By Maddy Hubbard, Financial Advocate for Greater Manchester and the North West
Dosh is unique in providing advocacy specifically around money, but many people don’t fully understand what a ‘Financial Advocate’ is or what we do day to day.
‘Advocacy in all its forms seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in society, are able to:
‘Advocacy is the process of supporting and enabling people to:
At Dosh we focus our advocacy particularly around money, which is an area where people with a learning disability have in the past been given very little independence or control. We think that being able to use your money in the way you want is a key step to having control over the rest of your life.
As Financial Advocates, we support and enable people to:
A really important part of my role is getting to know the people I support and listening to what they want. I do this by visiting regularly and taking the time when we meet to find out what is important to the people I support. I really enjoy getting to know a new person, learning how they like to communicate and becoming part of the team making sure they have a good life.
For some people, having someone outside of their family and day-to-day support team who is there just for them can be really empowering. Others might not be able to communicate or take part in every aspect of a decision, but their Dosh advocate can make sure that everyone who is important to them is involved in making big decisions so that we get the best possible option.
During my time at Dosh I’ve learnt a huge amount about the benefits system, as well as other areas around personal finances such as money saving schemes and grants. By just supporting people with a learning disability, we have really specialised knowledge which helps us to get people the best possible deal for them.
We are also very persistent, working hard to make sure that people get everything they are entitled to. For example, one person I supported stopped claiming ESA because they had got a job, but I believed that they were owed money for a premium they should have been receiving. After lots of phone calls the DWP gave them almost £3,000 on the closed claim, but I was sure they were still owed more. Eventually, I got them an extra £3,500 on the claim, going back to what they were owed from 2014, which they will use to go on holiday to Australia!
Finances are an area where people can become nervous, wanting to safeguard and protect someone rather than give them real independence. At Dosh we help people build skills around finances, including budgeting, so that they can have more control over their money.
Some of the people we support find it very difficult to connect their short term spending with long-term consequences, such as not paying their bills. We want to give people independence, but also make sure they are not at risk, so for these people we can transfer a small amount of money every day to their personal account.
This helps someone feel independent and can help them learn budgeting skills whilst still being sure that their rent will be paid and their savings will be kept safe.
I have found that having a Financial Advocate gives the people I support the opportunity and the space to think about the things they want and plan for the future.
Dosh advocates are not just administrators managing someone’s benefits, we are a part of their circle of support and we want to help them to live a good life. Together with their family, support team and others who are important to them, we can work to identify and reach their goals.
I love working for Dosh, because as a Financial Advocate I am here to help people with a learning disability to live happy, independent lives. If you think that is something that you would like then talk to us about how we can support you.
Meike Beckford November 29th, 2016
Posted In: News and Blogs