At SmartLyte, we deliver social change through Get Families Talking – our model of intergenerational learning.
Together, we improve people’s lives.
Rana left her small hometown in Egypt to move to Birmingham in the UK for a better life. She imagined a future where she would learn English quickly, have her own money and be able to work to support herself independently.
After the birth of her two children, Rana was living in a two-bedroom council house and knew very little English.
Rana slowly made new friends, including Asma, a parent who regularly attended our English Language coffee group. Asma encouraged Rana to attend and introduced her to the group one day. Rana eventually made more friends and felt really comfortable in a friendly, community setting where the whole approach was informal learning. She quickly saw the benefits and started to attend on a regular basis.
Rana soon began to learn about budgeting and money management, in turn improving English skills. She learnt about ways to make her Universal Credit benefits last further and where to get the best shopping deals. After paying for bills and essentials, she even managed to start saving for emergencies.
But unexpected events plunged the family into severe debt – eventually leading to bailiffs turning up unannounced. The anxiety and stress she felt was at times unbearable. She felt like she was losing control of her well being and sanity.
Things suddenly got worse during lockdown when Rana’s fridge freezer broke. She found a cheap second-hand appliance online, but her partner had recently taken out a loan secured against their joint benefits. There was now even less money to buy food and certainly no money for emergencies.
At SmartLyte, we supported many people who needed urgent support during lockdown and this was simply another situation we had to deal with. By intervening swiftly, we organised a weekly food bank delivery and helped Rana apply for a Covid Resilience grants.
Rana felt relief as she saw the money go into her account. Using her newly acquired skills she was able to negotiate a lower price for the fridge which enabled her to stretch her money further.
Just 12 months ago Rana had no control over her family’s finances. She felt alone, confused and trapped. She did not know, nor did she care about how much money was left or spent. Now, she is able to ask the right questions and not feel so in the dark about her financial situation. She asks “How much?” and “why?” and constantly looks for pennies that she can tuck away into her bank account. Although Rana is still in a difficult situation, she is using her new found skills to take back control of her life.