In 1990 a group of Christians in Palmerston North had a vision to assist people who were struggling financially. They wanted to enable and empower people to live in financial freedom.
Their vision became a reality in the form of Financial Freedom Trust (FFT) where, initially, they gave out interest-free loans to people who were burdened with high interest debt, to enable them to become debt free in as short a time as possible.
As they mark three decades in service, Financial Freedom Trust’s support has adjusted to meet the needs of their clients, but their objective to educate and empower people to manage their finances independently hasn’t changed.
Financial Freedom Trust Manager and Financial Mentor, Indran Mylvaganam, says over time it became evident that people needed to learn to budget their income, and the provision of budgeting services became integral.
“Our services are now focused on providing everything from financial mentoring, budgeting advice and education right through to total money management in special circumstances. Our services are free of charge to individuals and families who experience financial difficulties or lack basic money management skills. We assist people from a wide range of backgrounds,” Indran says.
“Many of the people for whom we provide a total money management service are disadvantaged due to physical or mental disabilities, as well as addictions. We also assist older people who are often vulnerable and taken advantage of. As we relieve these clients of the additional burden of having to manage their finances and pay bills etc., they are free to enjoy other pursuits in life. This contributes to their wellbeing and enables them to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
“One of the major issues our clients face is huge debt, which they are unable to service. This includes unpaid bills to power companies and rent arrears, as well as hire purchases, high interest loans from money lenders, credit card debt and finance company loans. Another major issue is the inability to make ends meet due to high costs such as rent. Some people come in having received eviction notices due to rent arrears as well as disconnection notices from power companies due to unpaid bills.
“Children and young people also benefit when their families are free of dysfunction, and in turn their communities are strengthened too.”
Approximately 150 clients have received one on one financial mentoring from FFT just this year. An additional 60 clients have been through the Trust’s ‘Money Mates’ peer supported group course where participants build resilience in choices, options and behaviour around money.
FFT has seen a steady increase in demand for their services over the years, which has resulted in a waiting list of people seeking assistance.
Eastern and Central Community Trust provided a grant of $5000 to FFT to contribute to staff costs, of which they have two paid staff members and 12 volunteers.
“Our mission is to educate and support people with their financial knowledge, to enable them to achieve financial freedom, security and relief from poverty and empower families to handle their own affairs through the development of good money management skills. We are grateful to ECCT for enabling us to carry out our mission.”
“(FFT) helps me every time and also helps me to save my money. I used to struggle before, but not anymore. I think you guys did everything well.” FFT client