For Vanquis Banking Group, supporting the communities we serve is about more than just helping people out. The actions we take and the causes we support are specifically chosen to improve the lives of people in our customer base, which includes helping to build the skills they need to move forward into better everyday lives.
Here are some of the highlights from our 2021 Social Impact Programme
£1.4m invested to support community programmes, money advice programmes and social research
425 hours volunteered by colleagues during work hours
donated to colleague fundraising efforts
An average school attendance increase delivered by the practitioners we fund through School Home Support
665 children took part in our bespoke Reciprocal Reading programme with Leading Children, improving reading skills significantly
Grants totaling £307k were distributed to 51 community organisations
The Purpose that underpins our reason for being and the role we play in the lives of our customers also informs the choices we make in our community investment activities. This is why the Social Impact Programme (SIP) that we launched in 2019, following consultation with our many partners and external experts, invests in activities and initiatives which seek to address some of the key factors which, on their own or acting together, can reduce someone’s likelihood to be accepted for credit.
We do this because these are issues that are not only very much aligned with our Purpose of helping to put people on a path to a better everyday life, but also because this supports our SDG commitments which relate to no poverty, quality education, decent work and economic growth, and reduced inequalities.
Our Social Impact Programme splits community investment across three workstreams:
working with charities and specialist partners to provide support that seek to address key factors which affect customer and colleague
Supporting children, young people and adults in boosting their education, skills and aspirations to more widely participate in society and secure a brighter financial future.
Assisting community foundations and other partners in addressing the wide range of social inclusion and social mobility issues that are relevant to our customers and their communities.
Across the UK roughly 4 in 5 adults have a low level of numeracy, but just what do we mean by numeracy?
Numeracy is not always taught in the classroom: it means having the confidence and skills to use maths to solve problems in everyday life. For instance: at work – understanding spreadsheets and data; in managing our finances – setting and keeping to a budget, understanding interest rates, understanding the financial implications of borrowing money, working out how much money to put into a pension; and as parents – helping children with homework, playing board and puzzle games with children.
As a financial services business, we have a responsibility to make sure colleagues are explaining our products to customers correctly and we want our customers to understand the terms of products they are signing up for, too. To do that, they need basic numeracy skills.
In 2020, we were once again lead supporters of National Numeracy Day. The day looks to raise awareness of the importance of numeracy and helps people take steps to improve their skills. In the midst of lockdown, National Numeracy were able to adapt the day to run as an online festival. More than 50,000 people signed up to improve their numeracy skills during May 2020.
With many parents finding themselves in charge of home learning, there has never been such a stark need to empower children and adults to get on with numbers so they can fulfil their potential.
In light of this, National Numeracy wanted to support parents, carers and teachers with the challenges of remote learning and for every family to know that they can help their children with maths without having to be an expert. So, they launched some free online resources and activities that focus on helping parents, carers and teachers support children to develop number confidence and a positive attitude to maths.
There are many barriers that can prevent a child from getting to school in a morning. This can be because of personal struggles they may have, or perhaps financial, psychological or other challenges the parent or guardian may have.
SHS is a charity which places practitioners into schools across the country to work with children and families who need support the most. We provide funding for a practitioner at a school in Bradford and also at two schools in Chatham.
During the lockdowns in 2020, the charity has seen demand for its services more than quadruple but have continued delivering vital support to families facing issues such as domestic violence and food poverty. They also helped out with delivering digital devices to those without access.
In the lead-up to Christmas, our colleagues took part in a gift-giving appeal which meant that disadvantaged children across the UK woke up to gifts on Christmas morning. We continued to work with all our partners through these difficult times and have been flexible with our funding to allow them to adapt the programmes to work for the less privileged young people and
families they support.
"As an SHS practitioner working in a secondary school in Bradford, I see how the added pressure of Christmas impacts the families I work with. Christmas isn’t always a happy time for families and even more so this year. I’m working with young people and their families who have had significant bereavements, parents who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, living
in poverty and suffering from poor mental health. These gifts will make a big difference and take away some of the pressures parents and carers feel around this time of the year."
Numerate nation? What the UK thinks about numbers, a recent report published by National Numeracy, revealed millions of adults in the UK could be missing out on the benefits of improved numeracy skills due to undervaluing their importance in everyday life.
The report found:
- 43% of people say they do not want to improve their maths and numeracy skills, despite government data showing half of working age adults have the numeracy level of a primary school child
- 23% say they do not want to improve their skills because they do not see how it would benefit them, yet a quarter have been held back from applying for a job they were interested in because it listed ‘using numbers and data’ as a requirement
By ‘numeracy’ we mean the ability to use maths in everyday life, including skills not always taught in the classroom. It also includes the confidence and skill to use numbers in all aspects of life:
- At work – using spreadsheets and understanding data
- At home – working out how many minutes until a train arrives or increasing a recipe to serve extra guests
- As consumers – understanding how much we will save with a 15% discount
As a financial services business, we need to make sure potential customers understand the terms of the products they are signing up to with us. To do this, they need basic numeracy skills, which is why we have been lead supporters of National Numeracy Day for the past few years. The day is all about raising awareness around the importance of numeracy and helping people take steps to improve their skills.
National Numeracy Day 2019 led to more than 22,000 people signing up to take part in the National Numeracy Challenge, a free online assessment tool. Anyone who needed help to improve their skills was signposted to a set of modules to help them learn in manageable steps, building confidence along the way to improve their skills with numbers.
The Money Charity’s vision is to empower people across the UK to build the skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours to make the most of their money throughout their lives. One of the main ways it seeks to achieve this is by delivering tailored face-to-face workshops that establish or enhance participants’ knowledge of and capability in money matters.
Our relationship with The Money Charity has enabled it to deliver workshops in schools and colleges. In the last school year, our funding meant 5,268 students could take part in UK-wide workshops; 85% of these were in disadvantaged schools.
However, individuals and families who might benefit most from learning how to manage their money well are often unaware of or unable to access this kind of support. With this in mind, we tasked The Money Charity to increase the participation of hard-to-reach groups in adult financial capability workshops. It did this by building relationships with a range of third-sector support organisations.
The links built with carer groups, family support organisations, organisations supporting the homeless and offenders, and women’s refuges mean the formerly hard-to-reach clients of these organisations participated in the 78 adult workshops held in 2019.
Re:Tune Project, Glasgow, was established in 2014, following a personal encounter by the founder, David McHarg, with a homeless gentleman who was struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after leaving the army. This had led to alcoholism and family breakdown. His tragic death a few months later and the founder’s personal interest in guitars provided the idea for this project.
The idea behind the project was to provide therapeutic guitar-making classes and workshops to repair broken instruments. The project works primarily with veterans suffering from PTSD who are isolated and struggling with civilian life. They also welcome other vulnerable adults who have conditions such as autism, disabilities or mental health problems, or who are from asylum-seeking and refugee communities.
Their workshop space is located in the Easterhouse area of Glasgow where they work with small groups who attend twice per week over a nine to twelve-month period. They learn new skills in fine woodwork and instrument making, which is then used as the basis for group discussions and improving self-esteem and confidence. Participants also enjoy music sessions together as they tune and play the instruments. This encourages them to become familiar with a working environment and take further steps in education and/or employment. Participants who have successfully completed the course are also encouraged to become volunteer tutors.
Re:Tune’s change model aims to overcome problems of isolation, loneliness and negative coping strategies. Participants are supported and encouraged to address harmful use of alcohol and other substances, to develop their social skills, to communicate their feelings and emotions, and to develop new positive interests. Participants are encouraged to re-engage with the wider community and support services, and to plan for a more fulfilling future.
Through our partnership with Foundation Scotland, our grant funding is covering the cost of materials for making new guitars, enabling Re:Tune to continue working with new groups to deliver its therapeutic wrap-around services, while making sure participants have access to materials that will enable them to make something high quality that they are proud of.