Description of the programme
Toynbee Hall ran a one-year peer-to-peer financial information-sharing pilot project aimed at older people (aged 55 or above and in retirement) with funding from the Money Advice Service’s (MAS) ‘What Works Fund’. Toynbee Hall trained 16 service users from five Linkage Plus partner agencies (centres offering one-stop services for older people) as Money Mentors. The project trained them in personal finance management and mentoring to become community money mentors and supported them to develop resources for sharing their learning with 65 other services users (referred to as secondary beneficiaries) from their centres through 15 sessions.
Toynbee Hall commissioned The University of Salford to conduct the evaluation of the project. The evaluation focused on the effectiveness of the project in engaging older people in financial education, and the ability of the project to generate positive outcomes in relation to the wellbeing, knowledge, behaviour and skills of participants.
The methodology comprised of a before-and-after survey of participants, focus groups and interviews with participants, project documentation and staff interviews.
- Overall, the findings suggest that the Money Mentors became more confident in managing their finances and planning for the future after the intervention.
- The interviews and the discussions in the focus group suggest that the training motivated the mentors to take steps in relation to managing and preparing for key life events. This improvement in confidence and motivation was partly because completing the training underlined their ability to acquire new skills and knowledge despite their age. This newfound ability to learn motivated the money mentors to look into other courses and skills.
- The results point to an increased level of awareness about the risks and forms of financial scams. The mentors said that they had increased their knowledge about scams, including the different forms of scams and the steps they needed to take to stay safe.
- The results suggested that if appropriately designed and delivered, it was possible to engage older people in financial education they found relevant and rewarding.
- The recruitment of older people for the training was more effective when there was more awareness of the apprehensions of older people, as well as recognising the importance of trust and rapport between trainers and recipients.
- Older people needed a supportive and encouraging setting adjusted to their particular needs and requirements. This included friendly and encouraging facilitators, support for participants with mobility issues to attend activities, and having videos and visual material adjusted for the visually impaired. The training worked best when structured, interactive, and task-orientated and conducted in small groups with more than one trainer.
- Older people needed additional support, guidance and encouragement to overcome apprehensions about developing and running peer-to-peer information-sharing sessions.
- Structured game-based activities with set content worked well for information sharing, as they did not rely on remembering technical knowledge and were more accessible for non-native speakers of English.
- Questionnaires and testimonies suggested that the secondary beneficiaries enjoyed the sessions and ‘learnt something new’.
Points to consider
- The small scale of the project (16 participants) reduced the potential sample sizes and the ability to determine if the changes observed were statistically significant.
- Without an experimental project design or robust approach to understand attribution, it is difficult to say with any certainty if the observable changes are due to the intervention in question.
- It may require a longer evaluation timeframe to determine if the project produces some longer-term outcomes for the participants (e.g. being victim of scams etc.).
Senior Money Mentors - full report