Financial skills for adults with learning disabilities – what we’re learning

The Money Charity is working with Hammersmith & Fulham Mencap to develop accessible financial skills workshops to help people with learning disabilities take control of their money.

Been on holiday and would love to be able to afford to do it again? Need to save up for your baby’s cot, nappies and milk? Frustrated the change you save in the pot keeps going on cigarettes? Gone to a payday lender because it’s so much simpler than getting a cheaper overdraft or loan?

These are familiar financial challenges to many of us. And all of us need the knowledge, skills and confidence to take control of money before we can have control over our lives.

They’re also the stories we heard in the training sessions we’re piloting for adults with learning disabilities. People with learning disabilities want to live independent lives, and as for us all, that means having confidence in your relationship with money.

Over the years, we’ve helped thousands of adults in workshops up and down the country to improve their money management. But just because the issues are largely the same, does not mean that the approach can remain unchanged. To be accessible new, more interactive methods and materials are needed.

So we’ve been adapting our workshops with the help of H&F Mencap’s Safety Net – People First (SNPF), and trialling them with their youth group.

These are early days, as of today we have done just five pilot sessions, and we’ll share more once we have a clearer picture of exactly what’s working and what’s not.

But our early sessions are teaching us a lot:

  • Our tried and tested paper-based budgeting exercises are being adapted to have real, graphical moving parts. This means big pictures that you can move around and play with, not just tables you fill in.
  • Cut the PowerPoint! It just doesn’t work. Things have to be much more hands-on.
  • The content that we sometimes deliver in single workshops is spread out so that each session handles a single concept – budgeting, saving…
  • Hypothetical examples are all made realistic and relevant to the lives of participants.

All of us at The Money Charity are proud to be working with Mencap to develop personal finance courses to help adults with learning disabilities manage their money.

We would also like to thank Vanquis Bank for funding this new venture and, most of all, the wonderful people who’ve been kind enough to be our guinea pigs over the last few weeks.