Project affiliate - Aviva Plc logo image

You're not a loan: Growing youth debt resilience

by Dmitry Fedotov in Wakefield, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 21st April 2020 we successfully raised £3,002 with 18 supporters in 154 days

You’re not a loan addresses problematic personal finance, debt and illegal money lending, boosting financial skills in deprived communities.

by Dmitry Fedotov in Wakefield, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

You're not a loan is a scale-able project. With the extra finance, we would take the project from West Yorkshire and replicate it in South Yorkshire - another patch we have a lot of reach in.  

The project

‘You’re not a-loan’ is a programme aimed at young adults in West Yorkshire. It responds to the growing widespread issues of problematic personal finance, debt and illegal money lending.

‘You’re not a-loan’ is a method of improving the personal finance capabilities of a vulnerable client group. It is highly efficient insofar as it takes advantage of TYA’s existing relationships with young, long-term unemployed adults. This structured and intensive programme enables young unemployed people to grow their knowledge, confidence and prospects, while walking away with a newly-developed skillset.

Youth workers deliver workshops and short training programmes with the intention of boosting budgeting skills and increasing resilience to illegal money lending. The programme covers:

• Managing money effectively

• Dangers of loan sharks

• Safe ways to borrow

• How to calculate interest

• Practical tips

Our trained and experienced youth workers use tried-and-tested resources to deliver the programme, which includes scenarios and real-life case studies. In addition, TYA has its own guest speakers, who have been through experiences with illegal money lending and contribute to the programme with their own stories. The project is delivered by youth-and-community workers with an informal education background.

‘You’re not a-loan’ breaks down the barriers often faced by this client group, which have previously prevented them from taking part in traditional forms of training. This includes:

• The use of tablets, smartphones and guest speakers to create a truly engaging training experience

• The programme being brought to the ‘doorsteps’ of these hard-to-reach groups to ensure accessibility.

• In most cases, the existence of current relationships between the young adults and youth workers

In keeping with our youth work grounding and foundations , ‘You’re not a-loan’ is delivered to groups, rather than one-to-one, to create cooperative learning environments that enhance the total output of the programme. ‘You’re not a-loan’ not only produces knowledge-based outcomes in the short-term but creates a stepping-stone improving access back into employment, education and a stable future in the longer term.


The long-term aim of this work is to establish a growing culture of ambition and resilience among young adults in West Yorkshire, underpinned by improved finance skills and increased social inclusion. During the shorter project time-frame, we aim to deliver innovative and accessible money-skills programmes to improve participants’ readiness for adulthood. This will be measured against the following outcomes:

1. Develop resilience through increased financial literacy 

2. Increased awareness and understanding of borrowing

3. Develop skills and increase resilience to illegal money lending

4. Empower unemployed 18-25-year-olds to manage money more effectively

In delivering these outcomes, 'You're not a loan' will enable participants to...

• work up a personal budget

• articulate the implications of poor decisions in relation to borrowing

• demonstrate understanding of safer borrowing options

• show ability to estimate interest and APR

• report confidence in own abilities to evaluate risks with regards to personal finance

The needs and disadvantage

TYA currently offers voice and influence opportunities to young adults who are 12 months+ unemployed. Youth workers therefore have a strong perspective/insight into the needs/issues they face. TYA recently conducted research with young unemployed adults, exploring the barriers they face in day-to-day life.

The results of the study indicate that financial constraints are limiting future opportunities. Financial literacy isparticularly poor with budgeting being a problem that leads to poor financial independence. Moreover, a disproportionate amount of the client group had either borrowed, or considered borrowing, from unofficial (52%) or payday (82%) lenders. TYA feels that young adults who are long-term unemployed are among the groups most vulnerable to financial hardship and illegal money lending. 

Follow-up group work enabled our youth work team to dig a little deeper into the financial aspects to this. Charmaine, 21, told a story about how she had been hiding behind the sofa when people came calling to collect her debts. She had taken out a high-interest loan, with no understanding of APR, to pay for household items: “I needed a mobile phone, an iron and a microwave so went to [high-street lender]. I couldn’t pay them back, so I went to [pay-day lender] to pay back [high-street lender]” Charmaine, 21.

Jon spiraled into some financial difficulty and didn’t know who to ask for help. He needed someone to guide him through the process of getting himself back on track and planning a budget for the future: “At first I found an extra source of income for when times get hard but the way I did it could have bad consequences and damage my future career.” Jon, 22

Overall, this project aims to address the following needs:

• Poor understanding of budgeting and lack of financial independence

• Little/no awareness of the dangers of illegal money-lending

• Low confidence in reporting illegal money-lending


The Youth Association

TYA has been successfully delivering innovative support for young people since 1904. Working across South and West Yorkshire, we prioritize people facing multiple needs, disadvantages and barriers and wherever possible we put young people in the driving seat, enabling their voices to be heard. Our core mission is to grow Yorkshire’s future. We do this by helping young people to:

• build confidence and feel proud

• identify aspirations and make progress towards achieving them

• start a business, get a job or get onto a course

• meet new people and make new friends

Our approach

At TYA, we believe that our approach to our work is even more important than the formal qualifications and certificates held by our staff team. Our work is built on a wide toolkit of skills and techniques and is underpinned by a strong ethos and set of principles. 

  • The starting point of our work is always centred on the needs of young people, who are encouraged to express those needs, thereby setting the agenda for our workers
  • The voluntary basis of the relationship between young people and youth workers allows for the growth of a mutual respect, quite different to relationships in other settings. The young person’s right to ‘walk away’ is central to this
  • Our work is primarily a group process of social education, enjoyed in the most informal and accessible ways. It harnesses the social nature of human beings and acknowledges that we often learn most when collaborating in groups
  • We believe that youth work involves understanding the world from the point of view of young people. It is a powerful force for positive social change and our youth workers, alongside young people, are its most credible advocates.

Building life skills for adulthood

For many years, TYA has been supporting young adults to build their life skills. Much of this work has taken place either in community settings with the long-term unemployed or in college settings with the more vulnerable students. TYA's life skills projects have helped hundreds of young adults to build a bank protective factors that will improve chances of successful transitions into adulthood, including money management skills, confidence in speaking to others, food preparation skills and the ability to compromise.

Got an idea like this?

Our crowd has raised over £70 million for bright ideas and good causes.