Recently I was contacted by Daniel Clements, a Senior Service Coordinator for The Royal Association for Deaf People (RAD). During a Skype call, Daniel outlined an exciting two year project which is being delivered by RAD, The Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) and The Financial Education charity; MyBnk.
‘Money Mechanics’ has been funded by The People’s Postcode Lottery and it aims to work with young people between the ages of 14 and 25 who live with sight or hearing loss to teach them about money.
It is reported that only 29% of young Deaf and Blind people manage their own finances and The Money Advice Service has highlighted that young Blind and Deaf people in the UK receive ‘barely any’ specialised financial education.
‘The dream of ‘Money Mechanics’ is to equip Deaf, Blind and partially sighted young people with the money management, employability and life skills that they need to be financially competent.’
Daniel explained that ‘Deaf young people often miss out on information because it isn’t accessible to them. One of RAD’s key aims is to deliver services in a Deaf person’s first language’.
He went on to say that the charities are delivering workshops to 1000 pupils in schools in London and the South East. The aim of the organisations is to ‘build positive money habits’, so that students can ‘feel empowered to make their own informed decisions’.
Three different workshops are being presented concentrating on;
1) Money Works (Budgeting, wages, tax and bank accounts and borrowing)
2) Uni Dosh (For those students considering university and the financial issues around this)
3) Enterprise-in-a-box (Setting up a social enterprise, looking at buying and selling, price and profit)
An exciting concept!
It all sounded so interesting to me! If only I had an opportunity like that at school. I remember leaving school and even though I was lucky to be armed with a handful of qualifications, which I hoped would open the doors of job opportunities.
I soon became aware that entering into this big, wide world, I was not really equipped with the knowledge of finance, employment and money management which I would need as an independent young adult.
Education can only get you so far, the curriculum cannot provide all the necessary knowledge which you need for everyday LAE. (Life after education)!
Mike Brace CBE (RBSC), a blinded former para Olympian gave an inspiring speech; ‘If you can’t be in control of your money, you can’t be in control of your life’. How true are his words?
The ‘Dream Fund’ from The People’s Postcode Lottery ‘gives organisations the chance to deliver the project they have always dreamed of’. Their funding can literally bring people’s dreams to life!
Money is a vast subject
Discussing the content of the workshops with Daniel struck me how big a topic ‘Money’ is. From payslips to understanding the value of money and complex banking jargon to knowing why we have to pay National Insurance!
Even now, at the age of 21, I almost automatically switch off my concentration when I get a letter from the bank informing me of things like changes in the interest rate and overdraft limits. I have a ‘get out clause’ and tend to pass these over to my (secretarial) parents with the hope that they will deal with them, only involving me when I need to know!
I’m probably extremely fortunate in having parents who can afford the time to explain complex financial matters to me. Mortgages, insurance and pensions do not seem important to me at the moment, but there will come a time when I will need to know!
Oak Lodge School
This project brings so many wonderful organisations funded by The Dream Fund together with a unified aim of supporting pupils with additional needs. Such a cause being so close to my heart. Not only that, but Daniel went on to invite me to go along to witness first hand one of the workshops being rolled out in school.
I was given the wonderful opportunity to travel to Oak Lodge School in Wandsworth, London, one of the recipients of the funding. The School is home to around 85 pupils who are D/deaf or have speech, language and communication needs.
Perks of being Deafie Blogger
One of the best parts of my role as Deafie Blogger is meeting other D/deaf people, especially children and teenagers. I felt honoured to visit the school, join in with their workshops being run in conjunction with their Enrichment week and to give a speech during their school assembly.
As soon as I walked through the door, they made me feel so welcome and I felt a sense of belonging!
Money Mechanics Workshops
Oak Lodge provides education through small class sizes, which is key to the success of the teaching staff to be able to engage and interact with the deaf children in their preferred first language of BSL. I noticed how many of the enthusiastic staff were D/deaf and/or communicated through sign language.
I was able to participate in two classes. Lorraine from RAD, together with her interpreter, worked with students from two year groups to explore topics including; payslips, National Minimum Wage and discussing the value and buying power of money. It became clear that many of the subjects were new to students, but they understood the importance and relevance of learning more about money.
Finishing off in Assembly!
Sitting in the school hall reminded me of my recent school days, but I was here now as a visiting speaker, guest and fingers crossed, an inspiration if my aim was achieved!
I was struck by the difference I had experienced in my mainstream school. Assemblies where no one dared to utter a word, even cough. Here, to be honest, it wasn’t chaotic of course, it was harmonious and glorious to witness. I describe it as both refreshing and heartening to watch the pupils all participating and engaging in their own particular ways. Also how all the students were encouraged, valued and not held back or restricted to express themselves in any way.
I understood from my visit that the safe and inclusive environment which the school provides is an important platform to encourage their individuality, qualities and abilities.
I was impressed with how the member of staff who led the assembly, was completely unfazed by all the activity going on around her. She oozed enthusiasm and understood the importance of promoting achievement.
Children were all encouraged to play their part in the assembly, I believe it gave them a sense of purpose and value, which they might not experience in other parts of life. To me, the ethos appeared to create an oasis of hope and anything is possible, nestling in amongst the competitive outside ‘hearing’ world of greater London.
I delivered my speech with the help of the sign language interpreter which appeared to be well received. I explained that I write a blog about my life as a deaf person and some of the opportunities I’d had and the challenges I faced.
The students were invited to ask questions. I needn’t have worried of people being shy, as there were lots of interesting questions asked!
This rounded off my special day at Oak Lodge School. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I’d like to say a huge thank you to RAD especially and to the staff and pupils of Oak Lodge School for the opportunity.
The ‘Money Mechanics’ enterprise is a wonderful concept and the importance of educating young people around finance cannot be under estimated.