Financial Inclusion team challenges poverty within our schools
Councillor Elaine Cowan, the Council’s Spokesperson for Education, and Children and Young People visited the Barony Campus in Cumnock recently to meet their new Financial Inclusion Team.
A decision was taken by Cabinet in 2022 to allocate additional funding to the Financial Inclusion Team to allow the expansion of a project that was piloted at Loudoun Academy. This very successful pilot saw a Financial Inclusion Officer based within the school providing support and guidance to children and young people, their families and to the local cluster primary schools and Early Childhood Centres.
Eight Financial Inclusion Team members have been recruited and are based within every secondary school in East Ayrshire. They are working to ensure that families can access all the benefits and grants they are entitled to, maximising the family income. They also help to manage emergency situations as they arise and have access to a £50,000 Cost of Living fund that allows them to provide discretionary free school meals to children and young people for up to eight weeks.
Councillor Elaine Cowan, Spokesperson for Education, and Children and Young People said: “The expansion of the Financial Inclusion team was an important part of our strategy to tackle the Cost of Living crisis in East Ayrshire. The pilot at Loudoun Academy clearly demonstrated that having a member of the Financial Inclusion Team embedded within the school was the right approach, that families were benefitting financially but it was also helping their overall wellbeing by removing the stress and worry of applying for grants and benefits on their own. It therefore made perfect sense that this was rolled out to every secondary school.”
Councillor Cowan met with Head Teacher Peter Gilchrist, Depute Head Vicky Grove, John Dalton and Debbie Nicoll from the Financial Inclusion team and Laura Greer and John Scally, the Financial Inclusion officers based with the Campus. She found out more about their work locally and also met with young people from the school to find out more about the Cost of Living crisis from their perspective.
Councillor Cowan continued: “The role of the Financial Inclusion team is to support the outreach work already carried out by the Campus and to speak directly to local families about financial issues that may be worrying them. This can take place in school or the team can meet our families at their home or in a neutral meeting space, for example they could meet somewhere for a coffee to just have a chat. They have knowledge and experience that can really make a difference to local families and it is definitely worth getting in touch with them to ensure that your family is receiving all the support they are due.”
Financial Inclusion Team contact details:
Barony Campus, local cluster primary schools and Early Childhood Centres
Doon Academy, local cluster primary schools and Early Childhood Centres
Grange Academy, local cluster primary schools and Early Childhood Centres
Loudoun Academy, local cluster primary schools and Early Childhood Centres
Stewarton Academy, local cluster primary schools and Early Childhood Centres
St Joseph's Academy, cluster primary schools and St Andrew's Early Childhood Centre
William McIlvanney Campus, cluster primary schools and Early Childhood Centres