I live beyond walking distance from the University so I commute by car, but park a distance away so that I can get a daily walk in too. I like walking, as it creates a healthy mental space between home and work and helps me to prepare for the day ahead.
I arrive between 8.30 and 9.00 am and normally start the working day by checking my emails and preparing for my morning appointments. Students access the Money Advice Service via firstpoint who give initial advice then refer on to a Money Adviser if more in-depth specialist advice is needed.
People hear the term ‘Money Adviser’ and assume my job is quite dry, but it is not like that at all! I see a wide range of students from all over the world and from diverse financial backgrounds. I love to see how people change and grow during their studies; education gives people so many opportunities. I strongly believe that the University experience should be available to everyone irrespective of his or her financial circumstances, and I am proud that I play a part in helping people to access this opportunity.
Most of my appointments are face to face or by phone, and are confidential. I give advice on a wide range of topics such as student funding, welfare benefits, budgeting, money management and the University hardship fund. It can be challenging, as money issues can be a stressful and emotive subject and can come hand in hand with other issues, for example relationship breakdown or physical/mental health issues. I have to really use my active listening skills in order to work out how best to help someone. I work closely with other Student Services colleagues, to ensure that the University meets all of the individual’s needs so that they can put their energy into their academic studies. I also spend a lot of time on the telephone advocating on students’ behalf with other agencies, so I have to be quite diplomatic too!
During term times we often run events at the University, designed to improve students’ financial literacy skills, such as “Dealing with financial pressures over Christmas”, “Understanding credit and dealing with debt”, and “Managing money in a shared house”. This gives me an opportunity to make contact with students who have not already accessed the service, listen to their concerns and find new ways to meet their needs.
As a parent, my work day usually ends at 2.00pm ready for the school run, but not before a walk back to my car, giving me time to change into ‘Mum mode’ on the way. On days when I work later, I get a lunch break, which is a rare opportunity to do a bit of reading and indulge my love of coffee in one of the campus cafés! The afternoon brings more appointments and a chance to catch up with students to see if their issue is resolved or whether they need further advice or support with their finances.
My message to University Staff:
- If you have a student who is experiencing money issues, please encourage them to go to firstpoint as soon as possible. Sometimes people put off dealing with finances because it is too stressful but the sooner someone asks for help the easier it is for us to try to resolve the situation.
- The University Access to Learning Fund is an extra pot of money available to help students in financial difficulty. It is open all year round, including over the summer break and we can give advice and support with making applications.
Further information is available on our website www.worc.ac.uk/moneyadvice