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Quarterly Account, the journal of the Institute of Money Advisers

Quarterly Account, the journal of the Institute of Money Advisers https://www.i-m-a.org.uk/quarterly-account/

Anyone reading this article will have both a passion for money advice services along with a deep awareness of the challenges that 2020 has thrust us all through.

At times our advice centres have contended with challenges that we would never have imagined and at other times our hearts would have been moved by the shocking stories of lives that have been uprooted as we listened to distressing stories of both existing clients that had deteriorated along with new ones that we had never expected to talk to.

As a money adviser since the mid 1990s, I’ve seen many a situation. Perhaps to some degree I’d thought I’d seen most shades of life. Maybe you thought the same. Yet 2020 has been off the scale; a baptism of fire, in a personal hurricane I used to see on the news many thousands of miles away. Probably, like me, you’ve been stretched beyond what you thought was possible. Staff and volunteers have needed as much support as many clients. Some volunteers are effectively still ‘furloughed’ as we haven’t worked out an effective way for them to operate as they used to. Others are putting in extra shifts. We also know that the huge tsunami is still to hit the shores.

This is exactly why I got into money advice and many of you would feel the same. It is also why organisations like BGET are so important to us within the sector. It has a distinct role, much as our centres do, and has the ability to transform lives devastated by life events. Our advice centres need BGET and BGET needs us.

We are a broader team speaking into injustice, transforming the world one person at a time, even when the tide pulls in the opposite direction. We are stronger and united together. With news of a five year extension to the Warm Home Discount funding in December 2020, BGET can plan ahead with a degree of certainty; certainty of both further funding but also of a job still to be concluded.

This is why my role as a trustee at BGET is so crucial; without trustees BGET would not exist, but a Board without a money advice perspective would focus on broad aims, but lack the personal stories. It would see the data, but lack the knowledge of real lives. It might even sweat over deadlines, but not see the human tears that confront us with the reality of human misery. I have now served six years, two terms with BGET.

It’s time to step aside and invite others to join this journey.

Colin Trend, Trustee, British Gas Energy Trust