Prosper Frome is a community driven initiative to support people and businesses in Frome with practical place based banking solutions. You can read their innovative approach with their press release below.
The recent closure of Barclays Bank on August 23rd highlights the very real banking challenges being faced by the Frome community. Barclays being the third Bank to leave this year following HSBC and Nat West. Prosper Frome has been diligently working to find innovative solutions to the banking vacuum in the town. It has been researching the impact that the closures are having on vulnerable residents, business and the one remaining Post Office at Portway. Recognising the critical role that accessible banking services play in the community, Prosper Frome is advocating for a banking hub in Frome
Banking hubs are a fairly new concept where both traditional banking services and the local Post Office unite under one roof. This collaborative approach would not only ensure easy access to essential financial services but also pave the way for the implementation of a diverse range of community finance initiatives that could be integrated into a hub. Only 8 hubs have been opened across the country so far and 40 more are in the works but it is a slow process.
Navigating the path to this goal has proven challenging. Despite two applications to LINK, the organisation responsible for designating banking hubs, Prosper Frome has been met with disappointment. The eligibility criteria currently prioritise the number of ATMs in a town, of which it has many, in the supermarkets, Co-ops etc leaving Frome ineligible. However, this access to cash is of no use if people can’t spend it with local businesses because they can’t easily bank customers’ cash or get coin change. More businesses are insisting on card only transactions which will have a big impact on many people, 15% of all purchases are still made by cash. Undeterred, Prosper Frome remains committed to its mission of bolstering the town’s financial landscape. To address some immediate concerns about the loss of face to face support, Prosper Frome is excited to launch the “Money Matters” Café, set to commence on September 7th at the Town Hall. This initiative will provide a welcoming space where community members can seek help and signposting on various financial matters. Whether individuals are grappling with banking-related queries, budgeting challenges, utility tariffs, or general concerns, the Café will offer assistance. Trained volunteers will be available to interpret correspondence, discuss worries, and direct visitors to relevant services. The “Money Matters” Café will operate in conjunction with existing services, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and the digital literacy service at the Cheese and Grain.
To address growing concerns around scams and fraud, Prosper Frome will kick off the “Money Matters” Café with an inaugural talk, focusing on scam prevention, which will take place at 3:30 pm on September 7th. Prosper Frome’s commitment to community education extends beyond the Café’s launch, with plans to address various financial topics through informative sessions.
The “Money Matters” Café represents a pilot initiative, and its success could pave the way for expanded services. Prosper Frome is considering the possibility of introducing roving services in other locations. Furthermore, Prosper Frome is collaborating with Frome Medical Practice to look at training some Finance Connectors to ensure that individuals seeking support with banking and financial concerns are seamlessly connected to available resources.
In the face of banking challenges, Prosper Frome is dedicated to forging a path toward financial inclusion, education, and empowerment. If you would like to volunteer or support this work please email Prosper Frome or contact them through their website.