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Financial education charity MyBnk’s project The Money House were the winners of the 2021 London Homelessness Awards, receiving a prize of £30,000. We asked Madeleine Marcateus of MyBnk to tell us more about what they do.

What is your role?

I joined MyBnk as the project manager for The Money House in July 2021 and oversee our operations. I manage the project team that schedules the trainers and training assistants, manage our partner relationships and the day-to-day running of the project and our deliveries.  I am in charge of process improvement and ensuring things run as smoothly as they can. In short, it’s my job to make sure we can do what we need to do for the 16-25 year olds that come onto our course.

Where were you before this?

I am originally from Sweden and have worked in the Philippines as well.  In the UK I worked for a community organisation in Southwark, looking after the NGO and voluntary sector. I started my project management work at American Express before that.

Why did you come to MyBnk?

The way they approach tackling homelessness is very innovative. Building and retaining financial skills and independence is a practical, effective and dignified way of reducing someone’s risk of homelessness – especially if they have been in care as a child.  MyBnk is very proactive; we don’t wait until the person has already lost a tenancy as we aim to intervene before that.  What’s both interesting and appalling is that no one talks to young people about APR or how credit cards work.  This is a part of a problem about perpetual poverty – people are not given the education or support they need to learn these things to avoid debt and how to manage their money in the best way they can. Intervening as early as we can helps young people get the tools they need to remain independent.

What have you seen?

There is a great need for financial education for young people and this isn’t covered by many other organisations in the sector, at least not the way we do it.  Both charities and local authorities may do a shorter version of what we do but capacity issues and competing priorities make that difficult.  We can fill that void.   The Money House programme is not just a short two-hour course but covers all the practical things young people need spanning over one week, 25 hours in total: can they use digital banking apps? Do they need help setting up a bank account?  What is interest, APR and why are payday loans so risky? How do they avoid scams and protect their data and other money management and life skills that are hard to get elsewhere in such an interactive, unbiased and honest way.

We meet the young people where they are and help them understand the above concepts.  Our trainers help people feel seen as they are now, and ensure they never feed judged based on their circumstances.  We just want to help them in the best we can, by trying to set them up for a more financially stable future.

What are some of the challenges to your project?

Young people seem to expect our course to be a lot dryer than it is, and feel more like school. This can cause some resistance in them attending in the first place, so we do a lot of work to try and combat that by giving them a better picture of what to expect while on the course; an immersive and interactive learning experience that consists more of stories, quizzes and debates rather than lectures.

How will you spend the money?

We are thinking about making a promotional film aimed at the young people who would benefit from our courses, as one way to address the above issue.  We also want to further expand the training for our trainers to ensure we can stay on top of content relevant to young people today. We have already introduced a module on scams as they ramped up during the pandemic, we are currently reviewing gambling awareness as a module as well as how to even the playing field between young boys and girls.

And where do you want to go next?

We are very excited about going national.  In spring 2022 we open two new Money Houses in Glasgow and Birmingham.  We are just looking to expand our reach really, as about 10,000 young people leave care every year. We currently get to help about 500 – 1000 each year so are really excited about the future.

For more information about The Money House, go to https://www.mybnk.org/our-work/financial-education/the-money-house/ or contact Madeleine Marcateus at madeleine.marcateus@mybnk.org.  For more information about the London Homelessness Awards go to www.lhawards.org.uk