by Helen Martin
When government-initiated National Money Week was held in the second week of September, manager Frances Swann and her team at Helensville and Waimauku Family Budgeting Service came up with the idea of making themselves available to talk about money and budgeting for three days at the Helensville library. Anita at Copy and Print produced posters and Frances distributed them around town and organised a Facebook post.
Frances reports it went very well, with 10 and 12 and people dropping in each day, most of whom were new to the service. “People asked about mortgages, how to pay bills and which credit agencies have the cheapest rates,” she says. “I also got some new clients and inquiries to see if I could run more Money Life Skills courses.” A Kiwi Bank representative was there on the last day to give advice on their services.
The service has a broad clientele, servicing people from Riverhead, Kumeu and Muriwai up to Hoteo River. It is open Monday to Friday and if needed people can book an appointment for a Saturday. It offers one-off budgeting but prefers to book people for a few sessions. “The emphasis is now on mentoring, we no longer just write budgets,” says Frances. “We’ll also negotiate for people with government departments like IRD and WINZ.”
Another activity is management of the food bank, which is funded from donations and private trusts. Those wanting a parcel ring 420 7725. The first parcel is provided with no questions asked, any further parcels require recipients to have some budget mentoring.
Frances is grateful to the knitting group who meet at Parakai each week and knit baby clothes and blankets, which they give to her to distribute. “It’s a great help to our families,” she says.