The Impact of Lifesavers Programme in Ashington (Part 1)

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In this two-part blog, JFF development worker for Together Newcastle, Liz Chadwick, shares her thoughts on the impact of LifeSavers on the aspirations of local school children.

Picture a town cut off from transport hubs. Once proud in industrial heritage, there was work for almost every man in the mines. A community drawn together by the Miners gala, charabang trips to the coast, proggy mats, brass bands and well as the Pitmen Painters.

This is a heritage that came to an end some forty years ago when the pits started to close and unemployment and a sense of lost pride descended on the town.

The Co-op building stands empty and shops come and go fairly quickly. You can tell by the shutters.

This could be the end of the story. Despondency and low aspirations. But it is not like that because this is a community that cares, and it shows when you enter the Josephine Butler Academy in Ashington. Josephine Butler was a social reformer, so where better to pilot the Lifesavers programme. Lifesavers is a school savings bank but, much more than that, it links to other areas of the curriculum so that the children are learning about money in all aspects of life. Children are taught to talk about money at home and to learn about the value of saving in a society that seems to have lost that skill!

Children have a lot to teach us about the values of Lifesavers: wisdom, generosity, gratitude and justice. What’s more, they enjoy saving and appreciate the choices that having money in the bank gives them. One child shared her ambition to save up for a car of her own as she was going to need one when she grew up. Now that is foresight.