'Three Small Changes' Campaign Launched to Improve Access to Financial Services for Travellers
National Traveller MABS has launched it’s 'Three Small Changes’ Campaign. It is aimed at improving Travellers' access to financial services. The campaign, uses real-life stories to showcase positive steps Travellers and service-providers can take to promote better money management.
As part of the 'Three Small Changes' campaign National Traveller MABS has produced a number of short films, featuring contributions from Travellers throughout Ireland, which are now available on their YouTube channel.
Nineteen-year-old Marie Joyce from Cavan is featured in one of the videos, 'Get Saving', which aims to promote a savings culture amongst young Travellers. "The three small changes that I would suggest to people are, firstly, go into your local credit union and check what documents you need. Secondly, get them together. And, thirdly, get into a routine and save regularly, even if it’s only a small amount", she said.
The campaign highlighted the challenges faced by Travellers in accessing mainstream financial services, and called on government to implement a number of measures to tackle financial exclusion amongst low-income groups.
Travellers and many other marginalised groups find it difficult to access financial institutions such as banks and credit unions for a number of reasons, including a lack of the required forms of identification, a lack of income exceeding a certain monthly level, and – in some cases – numeracy and literacy issues.
Not having a bank account makes it difficult to save in a secure manner, so it becomes difficult to financially plan for things such as back-to-school costs, weddings, health-related costs and so on. As a result, borrowing from moneylenders is often the only way for people who are financially excluded to access credit. This can drive them further into debt, as moneylenders charge far higher interest rates than banks or credit unions.
National Traveller MABS is calling for the establishment of a nationwide, State-funded personal micro-lending scheme, whereby the financially excluded and those on low incomes could access credit easily. According to National Traveller MABS, such a scheme should:
- Provide credit through trusted sources such as credit unions.
- Have an easily accessible application process.
- Have a strategic focus, and engage with money management support services such as MABS.
- Include a saving option, thereby providing a pathway to future credit.
- Provide for repayment deduction at source (subject to protected income considerations and individual choice).
2014 Annual report
At the same event the National Traveller MABS also launched their Annual Report for 2014.
Speaking at the launch Chairperson, Colin Thomson, stated: "in 2014 we committed to restructuring our Annual report beyond its historical narrative into an advocacy role that outlines the key issues of financial exclusion, examines how such exclusion should be resolved and is specific on the actions needed to achieve such resolve. A key message we have committed to for the future, which is evident throughout the report, is that small changes can have big impacts".