England forward Marcus Rashford leads the way in helping Sunderland youngsters to become more money wise
Over 100 youngsters from across Sunderland have been learning about how to manage their finances and not to get into debt thanks to a new initiative led by England international Marcus Rashford.
The Thrive Programme, which is run in partnership with Natwest Bank and the National Youth Agency, has seen the Manchester United forward and other partner members donate £6,000 to the Youth Almighty Project in Sunderland to enable them to host a series of fun financial workshops at their youth centres in Silksworth, Plains Farm, Farringdon and Pennywell.
The sessions, which have been delivered to 11 to 19-year-olds, have included a giant game of human monopoly, where youngsters have to make real world spending decisions, cooking on a budget, and finding out about the everyday costs of domestic life including energy bills and weekly shopping.
Each centre has also been donated an Xbox along with the game Island Saver which involves a range of money making tasks.
Youth Almighty chairman and youth worker Phil Tye, 47, said: “Youngsters go to school and do their Maths lessons and cover things like algebra, but this project really helps them to develop an understanding and confidence in dealing with money on a practical level.
"A lot of them knew about the cost of the latest pair of Nike trainers but had no idea about the cost of things like food, energy bills and car insurance. They were really shocked to find out the reality of how much things cost.
"They also learnt about how to access legitimate sources of money such as bank loans and overdrafts rather than having to turn to loan sharks.”
Fellow youth worker and project lead, Joanne Laverick, 48, added: “With the cost of living crisis at the moment these are vital skills and we have already seen a difference in the young people’s behaviour and attitudes to money.”
Like many of the youngsters who attend the youth clubs, Marcus Rashford grew up in an area of Manchester which experiences high levels of social deprivation and he has spoken openly about how his mum earned minimum wage and his family would often have to rely on breakfast clubs, free school meals and food banks.
Phil and Joanne feel having a footballing icon involved in the project and seeing how he has succeeded have helped to both raise the youngsters’ aspirations as well as engagement in the project.
Phil said: “Seeing the cost of things will hopefully help young people to be aspirational to be successful. More people like Marcus Rashford should speak out about issues relating to child poverty.”
Youngsters taking part in the project receive a goody bag including a Nike hat, a Marcus Rashford comic and a copy of his book, You are a Champion.
Speaking at the launch of the project Marcus Rashford said: “A lot of kids are scared to go to a bank, and that’s not surprising because they don’t teach you about money mindset at school. For those who grew up in the sort of area that I did, it’s about what you don’t have, rather than what you could achieve. The positive and empowering element doesn’t register in their heads.
“It’s not hard to reverse that, but not many people are trying to change that. It’s why I’m proud to work with NatWest on the Thrive Programme. I know so many talented young people who could really benefit from a program like this, who could actually propel themselves into something much bigger and achieving their goals. I’m really excited to be involved and to help shape the program.”
The project certainly seems to have had the desired effect on brothers Warren and Shane Brewster, from Silksworth.
Warren, 16, who attends Sunderland College, said: “The project has been really fun and since taking part I have got a job working as a kitchen porter at Spent Grain restaurant in Sunderland and have started saving money.
"The fact Marcus Rashford is involved is really inspirational.”
Shane, 14, added: “I was quite shocked to find out the cost of things like gas and electric and I now realise how important it is to learn about budgets as I don’t want to end up in debt.
"I really enjoyed the human monopoly and the cooking.”
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In March last year (2022) Youth Almighty Sunderland were approached about running a pilot scheme for Thrive and it was following the success of this initial project that in September the programme was rolled out nationally at cities including Manchester and London along with other locations in Sunderland.
Speaking at the launch of the event, NatWest Group CEO Alison Rose said: “Helping young people – no matter what their background – to thrive and develop a positive money mindset is core to our purpose and what I want us to achieve as a bank. We know education through inspiring relationships can have a big impact on young people, that’s why with the Thrive Programme we’ll be working with local and relatable people within the community to help young people reach their potential.
“Co-creating this programme with Marcus has helped us to better tailor our content to the real-life experiences of young people, and has only reinforced the amazing impact that positive role-models and peers can have in helping to develop an understanding of money and goal-setting.”
Leigh Middleton, CEO of the National Youth Agency added: “We are delighted to be partnering with NatWest and Marcus Rashford to design and deliver such an important programme. All young people deserve to thrive; high quality youth work gives young people access to that one inspirational adult that can make the difference growing up.
"Youth workers provide safe spaces to explore their identity, increased self-confidence and develop the life skills to thrive growing up. The Thrive Programme will provide youth workers with fantastic resources, toolkits and knowledge to continue transforming the lives of young people and enable them to reach their potential.”