Money Advice Charities: Capturing Stories from the Frontline during a Pandemic
To help people understand how money and energy advice organisations have provided vital support for people struggling with energy debt and financial hardship, the Trust commissioned a film to capture the real life stories of how people have been helped through Trust-funded advice services: ‘Battling Poverty in a Pandemic – stories from the frontline’.
Working with Prancing Jack Productions Film Company, the Trust team enlisted the help of six organisations from England, Scotland and Wales to help us to tell the story of the challenge of living during these unprecedented times.
To enable the whole production to happen within just six weeks and to ensure that no-one was being asked to travel during Covid times, a new and innovative approach was taken. Each of the six organisations identified a client to interview; the Trust team developed the interview questions with input from the organisations; the filmmaker provided coaching on film-making techniques; the organisations filmed their client and the Trust Programme Manager managed the edit process to ensure that the film remained respectful and reflective of our core values of Kindness, Empathy and Respect.
In just six weeks, the six organisations managed to interview and film their clients, the edit process was complete, and the final film was ready.
Making a film like ‘Battling Poverty in a Pandemic – stories from the frontline’ is a challenge, especially at this time when resources are stretched. You don’t want to put too much pressure on the organisations, you don’t want anyone to become stressed about participating and most importantly you don’t want the clients to feel ashamed about being featured. To speak openly on film about personal struggles and the help received is not an easy thing to do. The bond of trust between the client and the support organisations makes the film easy to watch. The authentic voices of clients from different parts of the country talking about how they have received fuel debt assistance or money advice will help the film to reach out and speak to others who may find themselves in need of extra support.
On the 16th of September 2021 a special preview event was organised with each of the six participating organisations and their clients invited. After showing the film, participants were encouraged to share their thoughts about the film.
All of the organisations identified that the timeframe for getting the film ready was a huge challenge. That said, despite feeling initially overwhelmed by having to do the filming themselves, all the organisations fed back that they found the process positive and some even said that it had helped to build their skills and confidence. One organisation who described themselves as the least likely and most reluctant novice filmmaker said, “I did enjoy it in the end, even though I didn’t think that I would!”
Another organisation reflected on how it made them feel part of something bigger,
The film ‘Battling Poverty in a Pandemic – stories from the frontline’ is powerful, with a high degree of realism. From a support organisation point of view, watching the film helps us to feel less isolated and it’s positive for us to feel that we are part of a bigger network.
Reflecting on the challenge of finding a client willing to participate this time around, one of the organisations said “I’m sure that when clients see this film, they will be far more likely to be willing to participate. In fact, I think people would be keen to do something good like this”. Given the level of support, the organisations are now keen to explore developing more thematic films in the future.
Engaging clients has been critical to the production of the film. It is clear from the initial feedback that those clients who were willing to speak on film did so to help others. Some of the clients felt that they wanted to thank the organisation for their support, others wanted to ensure that other people did not have to struggle without being able to access the right support.
It is a testament to each one of the clients featured in this film that by speaking out they have enabled this film to be made. They have helped to shine a light on the good work that the BGET family of organisations do, enabling others to benefit from fuel debt and money advice during these challenging times.