Families in Edinburgh are to get vital support tackling financial worries, as the economic downturn continues to hit hard. With funding from the Big Lottery, Changeworks’ new service Canny Families will offer families support to make money in their pockets go as far as possible.

Families are being particularly hard hit by the economic downturn and demand for food banks is showing an increase according to recent reports. Research study Growing Up in Scotland found that 37% of parents in Scotland said their financial situation got worse in the past year.

Canny Families will employ a Changeworks Affordable Warmth Advisor, a Citizens Advice Edinburgh Money Advisor and an Edinburgh Community Food Development Worker. Together they will offer home visits, local surgery appointments, and budget cookery courses to support parents to:

  • Afford energy bills: through energy saving tips for the home, demonstrating heating system controls, looking at energy bills, meters, tariffs and resolving energy-related problems e.g. incorrect bills and supplier debt.
  • Manage household budgets: supporting parents to budget, maximise their incomes and manage debts.
  • Afford food costs: parents can sign up to six free sessions looking at how to eat well on a low budget, how to reduce food waste and make their food bill go further, and know where to access affordable food.

Despite being an affluent city, Edinburgh has areas where a third of children live in poverty and over a quarter of Edinburgh households are living in fuel poverty with energy and food prices rising. Welfare Reforms are likely to further reduce families’ spending power.

All Canny Families’ partners have experienced an increase in demand for support in Edinburgh. Lyndsey McLellan from Edinburgh Community Food found: “In the last year we’ve really noticed the effect of rising food prices on people we support.” Similarly Peter Henderson from Citizens Advice Edinburgh says “the complexity of people’s problems is increasing, with numbers of debt issues continuing to rise. Agencies providing money advice are operating at full capacity with waiting lists. Canny Families will help respond to this challenge.”

Canny Families will enable over 500 families to get support, helping parents build skills and confidence to manage household budgets. Pauline Nicol from Stepping Stones, a local charity supporting young parent families in North Edinburgh, welcomes the project: “Home visits and face-to-face support will give parents the chance to ask questions they’d not normally have the opportunity to. Due to benefit changes this project will be amazing, giving young mums the opportunity to discuss how to spread their money over the month, manage to pay fuel bills, purchase food and survive on benefits awarded.”


Changeworks has been awarded £264,605 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Support and Connect fund to run Canny Families in partnership with Citizens Advice Edinburgh and Edinburgh Community Food.

The project will support over 500 people for 19 months, from September 2013 to 31 March 2015.

The Big Lottery Fund, Scotland announced on 16 July grants worth over £9 million to support those facing hardship in Scotland through its Support and Connect funding programme.

Big Lottery awards lottery money to community groups and projects that improve health, education and the environment.

Growing up in Scotland is the research study tracking the lives of thousands of children and their families from the early years, through childhood and beyond.