A new system of bartering is being launched in Melton to help people with money problems to do jobs for each other without having to pay.
The aim of the initiative, dubbed ‘time banking’, is to enable individuals throughout the borough to share skills at a time when debt advisory organisations have highlighted a major issue locally.
A public meeting has been organised at the town’s Samworth Centre on June 18, between 1.30pm and 4pm, for people to sign up to the scheme or learn more about it.
Amanda Stevenson, who is organising the event, said: “This will be a great way to get those jobs done that people cannot afford to pay for.
“People will be able to build up credits in our community pot by doing jobs for others and then they can have work done for themselves.
“It could be decorating, gardening or lifts to hospital - the possibilities are endless.”
Last month we reported that 124 people with debt problems had sought advice from Melton Citizens Advice Bureau in the last year, with many struggling to pay rent and council tax bills.
And the National Debtline had also revealed it had received 351 calls during 2013 and 2014 from Melton and Rutland residents suffering with money issues.
Mrs Stevenson is planning soon to offer a free debt guidance service called the Melton and District Money Advice Centre. Funding of around £3,000 has already been secured for the venture from Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation and Leicestershire County Council.
The organisation will operate with drop-in sessions, individual appointments and support groups at hired buildings, plus home visits, with the eventual aim to set up a permanent premises in the town.
Mrs Stevenson, a native Meltonian who has been a debt advisor for a national charity for eight years, said: “There are the same money problems in Melton as in other areas of the nation, with one in five people being in debt.
“With a population of 57,000 people in Melton and the surrounding district, that makes at least 11,400 people in need of our services and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response to our plans from local agencies.
“We want to be there every step of the way for people with money issues, not just say here’s your problem, here’s the solution, go away and do it yourself but to work hand in hand for however long it takes for them to find financial freedom.”
It is hoped the money advice centre will be launched as a social enterprise later this year. Further grants are being applied for and money is also being raised through the sale of garments made by a team of Melton knitters who are members of a Facebook group called UKnity.
Anyone interested in attending the public meeting in June, or to learn more about the scheme, can email firstname.lastname@example.org