The trial of the new People First New Zealand course ‘Money Smarts Made Easy’ was launched on the 1st September 2015.

Thank you to the Westpac Massey Fin-Ed Centre for hosting the launch and for working together with People First on the creation of the course and accessible resources.

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Thank you to the Ihc Foundation for being the funder of this financial literacy project. The Ihc Foundation is a long-time supporter of People First and it is important to acknowledge their commitment to supporting projects that have had very positive outcomes for the organisation.

Thank you also to the 6 People First members who have agreed to be part of this trial, as we go through the Money Smarts Made Easy Course and fine tune it for the future.

It has been a significant journey to get to this point. In 2012 a People First member got in touch with their Regional Coordinator and said “I think someone is stealing all my money”. She reported money being in her bank account, and then all her money being gone. She had no idea what was happening and she thought her money was being stolen. The Coordinator supported her to look further into this situation and what she discovered was that her money wasn’t being stolen, it was being used to pay all her bills but no one had told her how her money system worked.

People First New Zealand has had leadership development projects funded by Te Pou for the last 6 years. Each year the 6 regions of People First get to choose a leadership project, and in 2012 the Top of the South Region, after seeing a fellow member have this experience, decided their leadership project was going to be about money.  Their project was called  “Where has my money gone?”  Top of the South Regional President Don Neal was one of the People First members involved in this leadership group. He believes this course will be very worthwhile, saying “we just needed to know what all the different words meant, like debit, bank statement…I’m a bit more knowledgeable now”.

After the group presented their project at the National Leadership Forum, People First National Manager Cindy Johns engaged with a few external possible partners around taking this learning further, but wasn’t able to get traction.  Meanwhile, members across the country were speaking up saying they wanted to know more about their money and were we going to be doing a “money course”? Cindy heard about the Money Smarts course that the Westpac Massey Fin-Ed Centre was delivering and thought that it could be a good fit with People First for the development of a financial literacy course.

Cindy and Janet, People First Project Coordinator and developer of the course, met with Dr Pushpa Wood from Massey University in April and discussed how the organisations could work together and made a plan.  Getting the content right was extremely important and Janet had many conversations with people with learning disability, support people of young people with learning disability and a couple of parents.

The 4 topics that were chosen to be included in the course were:

  1. What do you know about your money?
  2. Where does your money come from and where does it go?
  3. Saving for a SMART goal
  4. Keeping your money safe.

People First would like to acknowledge that part of the course content comes from a document written by Enable Scotland called “Keeping your money safe”.

We would also like to acknowledge that we have used images from Change.org and Photosymbols.com in the accessible resources for the course. The course resources are written in Easy Read and plain English as, like all courses delivered under People First’s education arm Learn with Us, it is designed to be delivered by a team of 2, one of whom has a learning disability.

The outcomes we are looking for from the Money Smarts Made Easy course is for people with learning disability to feel more confident about their money and knowing where money comes from and where it all goes. We also want people to know that you have a right to know about your money and there are people and places where you can go to get more information and help.

There is a lot of demand for the course.  After the trial People First will be taking the course back to the Top of the South Region and running the first official course in Blenheim. After that we will be looking for funding to deliver the course in other parts of New Zealand.