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  1. ITV Report

Project offers life coaching for those struggling with financial worries

A new project in Cambridgeshire and King's Lynn in Norfolk is helping people climb out of poverty.

The New Horizons scheme is a new initiative designed to help people tackle debt and housing issues and help them become more organised.

  • Watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Elodie Harper here

Danielle from Guyhirn considers Amanda Smith a friend. She also credits her with transforming her life.

Before Danielle met Amanda, her bills had spiralled out of control and she and her four children faced eviction. Too depressed by the enormity of her problems, Danielle let the letters demanding payment pile up unopened.

'You bury your head and before you know it, you're too far in and you don't feel like there's any way out of it."

– Danielle

Figures from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that more than 14 million people are in poverty.

The charity's definition of poverty is based on family type and these are the criteria:

  • A couple with no children earning £255 a week or less
  • A single person earning £148 a week or less
  • A couple with two children earning pounds £413 per week
  • A single parent with two children earning £306 per week

Danielle's housing association referred her to the New Horizons programme. Then Amanda Smith turned up at her door.

Amanda is a life coach, and spends between two and twenty hours with her clients, helping them get their lives back on track. Unlike many other advice services, coaches from New Horizons visit people in their own homes, recognising that many will be suffering stress, anxiety or depression due to their difficult circumstances.

The first thing Amanda did, was listen to Danielle's story. The next was get her a debt relief order. New Horizons paid the £90 fee.

"It was a big weight lifted off my shoulders. I could start breathing again, and moving forward and focusing on the next steps which was really good.

I was going to be evicted and Amanda helped me sort all that out. So now I've got a 5 year tenancy, which can make me breathe knowing I've got a roof over the kid's heads."

– Danielle
Danielle and Amanda Smith Credit: ITV

New Horizons offers help specifically with money problems, such as debt, and advice on how to manage money better. It also provides help getting back into the job market, such as writing CVs and helps people get online.

In Danielle's case, New Horizons lent her a Chrome Book until she could save up to buy her own.

When I came in to see Danielle she was at crisis point, but then when you see her journey and how far she has come, it makes me feel emotional. She's done it herself. I've just been coaching and supporting her.

– Amanda Smith, New Horizons
Dr Gemma Burgess helped design the New Horizons project. Credit: ITV

New Horizons started 18 months ago and has so far worked with 300 people across Cambridgeshire and King's Lynn. One of its partner organisations is the University of Cambridge.

Researchers there designed the programme and have been evaluating its effectiveness as it progresses.

These are complex problems and they're not easy to solve and unfortunately they affect a lot of people.

– Dr Gemma Burgess, Cambridge Centre for Housing & Planning Research
Danielle and Amanda work on getting the best energy tarrif Credit: ITV

The New Horizons project is by its nature a bespoke, individualised programme and so limited in the number of people it can help.

But for those like Danielle, who have benefited, the impact is huge. Danielle is now learning to drive in order to get a better job. She's also been inspired to help others in her community by campaigning for better park facilities for children in Guyhirn.

I feel if Amanda hadn't come into my life I don't know where I would have been. Because I was just so lost. And now I feel like I am in a better place and I can start looking for the future rather than worrying about the past.

– Danielle

If you believe you might be eligible for help from the New Horizons programme, you can get more information here.