In this weeks Leading the Way blog, Helen Addis, Bristow & Sutor Social Responsibility and Customer Welfare Manager, discusses a recent training session for teenagers and shares why Bristow & Sutor remains committed to increasing the financial understanding of young people.
Over to Helen…
As part of our ongoing commitment to help debtors improve circumstances and outcomes, we regularly offer training sessions and presentations on our processes. These sessions vary in content and can be designed for debt advice providers, so they are up to date with current methods, for clients, so their teams remain highly informed, or customers, so they can make meaningful changes and improve their circumstances long-term.
Our training always aims to ensure all attendees become well equipped with knowledge on how we conduct our work, as well as attempting to overcome any misconceptions or preconceived ideas through questions and answers. One key demographic we connect with in this way is young people. Bristow & Sutor offer this service as part of our wider commitment to Social Value in the communities we engage with. We often encourage sessions with young adults as proactive and preventative measures can make a huge difference to decision making and future outcomes.
The best way to stop somebody from falling into a negative situation is to ensure they understand the options available to them and recognise the consequences of their decisions as early as possible. The ambition for Local Authorities should be to help ensure young adults in the community do not fall into bad financial habits and can avoid ever finding themselves in problem debt.
How we make a difference
One of our most recent sessions was held in association with Kettering Training Services in conjunction with our client, North Northamptonshire Council. Kettering Training Services supply courses for 16–19-year-olds in the local area who have left school and are not sure what to do next, aiming to provide them with employability skills in a condensed 24-week period. Budgeting and benefit information, as well as welfare support and money advice, are key features of these courses and Bristow & Sutor aim to further enhance the comprehensive understanding built into these modules by supplying additional sessions specifically on debt and credit.
The session involves topics and activities based around positive and negative uses of credit, perceptions of debt, identifying ways of getting into problem debt, risk factors, mitigating actions, credit score myths, asking for help and sources of support. I deliberately do not reveal that Bristow & Sutor is an enforcement company until towards the end of the session, as this reveal always sparks further conversation and eventually, understanding. Following an overview of the three stages of recovery and how we fit into the debt cycle, attendees begin to question why an enforcement firm, that has the purpose of recovering debt, would want to help local authorities reduce the number of debtors in the community. This is exactly the wider perspective thinking we want to encourage and solidifies many of the links made throughout the session.
The tutors involved in this programme know the young adults well and are clearly committed to helping them broaden their horizons. Our feedback has always been unanimously positive and we are proud to be part of this valuable and insightful initiative.
Why young people?
Bristow & Sutor support and offer training and advice regarding problem debt to all ages, as anyone can find themselves facing problem debt for the first time. But we also recognise that increasing knowledge around the subject from a young age can set people on better financial journeys and help them make better decisions now to avoid facing difficulties in future. One thing I have found from sessions with young people is an interesting difference in levels of knowledge and understanding. For example, some young people have a very good awareness of financial responsibility, having seen their families encounter situations in the past. Others tend to only understand concepts, without any further understanding of the real-life risks involved.
The theory of financial responsibility is one thing, but understanding what Council Tax is, how much this can cost and why it is your ethical duty to pay, is something else entirely. School is predominantly a theory-based environment, which is rightly structured to both protect young people and foster creativity, but it is undeniable that without a real-life understanding of what can happen if debts go unpaid, young adults can feel when first faced with charges that this is unjust, confusing or that they are set up to fail. It is our responsibility to help increase understanding and awareness, ensuring they realise the positive impact that paying their way has on their own lives and also the lives of everyone in the community.
Bristow & Sutor is excited to be supporting The Money Charity and as part of a recent donation, we will be enhancing future training provisions and funding representatives of the charity to run financial education sessions. We are currently asking clients to nominate regions that will benefit from this investment and we look forward to sharing more details soon.
Bristow & Sutor continues to add social value to the communities we engage with and we remain committed to an ethos of being cool, calm and collected.