The 5 Ways to Wellbeing • Be Active (2)

This is where things get physical. I know that’s something we don’t always want to hear – unless it involves dashing down to the local Chinese for some Dim Sum – but it’s exactly what we’re trying to stop you doing (or at least get you to do less of).

It’s generally agreed that some form of regular exercise can help prevent a nasty bunch of health issues coming on earlier – or later – in life, as well as increase your overall wellbeing. This involves doing either 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of non-strenuous aerobic activity per week, which can include getting on your bike instead of leaving it to rust in the garden shed, or fast walking. Add to that some basic strength exercises, like working on your chest, shoulders and arms at least twice a week (baked bean tins make great alternative hand weights) and you’re well on your way to feeling a whole lot better.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, why not try an hour and a quarter’s worth of vigorous activity? Running, playing a game of tennis or cycling fast or on hilly terrain all help to get your heart pumping. And there’s the two or more days of strength building again, too, don’t forget that. The key here is that, apart from getting fit, you’re enjoying it; if that’s not happening, the motivation to carry on will most likely fade quickly.

Mixing and matching’s never been bad if you’re into that; try 2 parts vigorous and 1 one part moderate exercise or vice versa. If you’re finding this a particularly difficult habit to pick up, here’s a tip to help build it into your routine: how about dividing your exercise into 30 minute chunks throughout the working week? Easy peasy! And you’ve got your 150 mins recommended in there. Who knows, maybe after a week or two you’ll actually not sigh at the thought of doing exercise but – shock! – actually go at it for longer than you needed to.

This is five-part series of articles, to help you cope with whatever challenges life throws at you. Click here to view part 1 – The Five Ways to Wellbeing • Connect (1)


Cooking on a budget

• Plan your meals for the week

Be organised plan what you are going to eat through the week and prepare what you need. Buying food on a daily basis can be expensive.

• Shop at the end of the day

If you shop later in the day there will be more food discounted, particularly when you go to the fish and meat counters. Buy it and put it in the freezer (the less space/air in the freezer, the cheaper it is to run).

• Cook in bulk

Batch cooking isn’t just a time saver it is also cheaper. Cook a couple of days’ meals in one go (e.g. a chilli con carne or pasta sauce), then freeze the extra portions for use later (see above about that freezer). Here’s more about cooking in bulk.

• Be adaptable

Don’t be a slave to recipes, swap ingredients for cheaper alternatives or something that’s on special.

• Shop around

Different shops offer different foods at different prices, it’s worth doing that extra ‘leg work’ for cheaper deals (that could include looking online, try MySupermarket). Also remember specialist food shops maybe cheaper than your local supermarket.

• Use shopping apps

There are a lot of apps on the market now that can help you make savings on your weekly shop, whether this is by highlighting special offers (BasketBuddy) or through providing cashback on items (shopitize). It’s worth downloading a few of these apps to maximise the impact.
• Buy supersize

This takes a bit of planning and storage space (unless you buy with a group of friends and spread the cost). Buying basic items in bulk reduces the overall cost while increasing the value for money. Things like toilet roll become cheaper the more rolls you buy. The same can be said for some veg, if you buy from a greengrocer – especially root veg like parsnips, potatoes and carrots – which also last a bit longer!

• Use leftovers

Before you throw away the remains of tonight’s meal, think about whether it could be used again. This becomes easier to do when you have planned your meals for the week, for example cooking a roast chicken on Sunday night and using the chicken to make a curry on the Monday and a risotto on Tuesday (boiling bones to make stock makes it go even further).

• Stop throwing food out!

Just because unused food has gone beyond its ‘best before’ date doesn’t mean it needs to be thrown away, it could be used in different ways. If your carrots are looking a bit floppy, put them into a soup or stew. Remember, however, you shouldn’t eat food that’s past its ‘use by’ date or that has gone mouldy!

Looking to get into work but not sure how?

Are you 16 or over?

Not in paid employment?

Living in London?

Have the right to work in the UK?

Love London Working is an exciting new training and employment programme to help unemployed people over the age of 16 into work. No matter how long you’ve been out of a job or what barriers to work you may be facing, such as health, disability or single parenthood, our team can assist you.

With Love London Working we’ll support you all the way from offering training opportunities, financial support through to developing key skills like IT and work related training. We also offer individual support with job applications, CV writing and interview practice. Plus, we have a wide variety of jobs and work placements ready for you to apply to across London.

Love London Working is a three year London-wide programme led by Clarion Housing Group, in partnership with 15 other housing associations. However, you don’t need to be a resident to take part. So, with a dedicated team ready to help you take those first steps to get back to work, what’s stopping you?

Get in touch today. The only thing missing is you…


Email for more information!


Love London Working is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) programme for 2014-2020. ESF in London is managed by the Greater London Authority.


The 5 Ways to Wellbeing • Connect (1)

Connect is the first of a five-part method to help you cope with whatever challenges life throws at you. It’s about our interactions and having good healthy relationships.
Having empathy and sympathy in our bonds with others has been shown to make us a happier bunch, importantly it provides a safety net of belonging. This is true especially for those feeling down in the dumps (Monday morning, anyone?). Building stronger, wider social connections can also help us feel happier and more secure, and can give us a greater sense of purpose.

Taking simple, effective steps will allow you to build up confidence too, in the face of a busy and ever faster paced life. Ever wondered what the cashier’s day has been like?

But this isn’t just at the shops, it’s about seeing opportunities in all parts of our life, at home, the gym, in your community. Talk to people, it can be as simple as that.

Social DIY

Sometimes it’s hard to share our feelings and problems. However, opening up to people you trust, like friends and family, is proven to have a beneficial effect on our mental health. Just recognizing that you need a chat can help – and the person you speak to might be glad to share something with you too.

Here are a few other practical tips to connect:
1) Pick up the phone and speak to someone rather than texting or emailing
2) Join a class or a social group – a great way to meet people with a shared interest
3) Have lunch with a colleague
4) Volunteer at a local community group or hospital

Be self-aware:
Just as your body uses hunger to tell you that you need food, loneliness is a way of your mind telling you that you need more social contact.
Struggling to cope? Seek advice, it’s better to get on top of things before they get on top of you.

7 handy tips for cooking on a budget

1. Work out how much money you’re spending each month
That way, you can identify items you can cut back on. And yes, I do mean that cheeky latte from Starbucks.
2. Check what’s in you cupboards
Before shopping, always check to see what you already have at home. Do you really need three jars of marmite?
3. Make a list
A good tip is to write out all your meals for the week and extract ingredients from your planned meals. You will avoid buying unnecessary items that increase your weekly food shop.
4. Shop around
Whilst it might be easier to get everything from one place, it can often be cheaper to buy your weekly shop from a number of different locations.  Also don’t forget your local market and butcher, often sell produce for less than in a supermarket and can recommend cheaper cuts of meat that you may not be aware of.
5. Beware of special offers
Our previous article highlights how many ‘special offers’ don’t actually save you money!
6. Don’t impulse buy
Keep to your list and think carefully about adding the extra item to your shopping basket.
7. Make the most of Vouchers and Cashback Apps
Discounts and vouchers can go a long way with your monthly finances. Cashback Apps can be downloaded to your smart phone and can be used to give you money back on items that you are buying. Remember, it is only a saving if it is on your shopping list!

If you need further help with your finances and managing budgets tap on the chat button and speak to one of our mentors.




Basic Bank Accounts

Now, more than ever, it’s time to set up a bank account (if you haven’t already)

If you’re worried that your credit rating might be too low to set up an account, fear not, this is where Basic Bank Accounts come in.

What is a basic bank account?
Unlike current accounts, you can still set up a basic bank account with a ‘not so good’ credit rating.

Basic bank accounts do not come with a credit check, the only eligibility criteria are:
• that you’re 16 or older;
• live in the UK and have a permanent address; and
• have documents proving your identity, like a passport, driving licence or utility bill.

How do they work?
They are not too different from current accounts in that they will allow you to do the following: –
• Use a bank card – some accounts will offer you a debit card, which you can use to make purchases, others will offer a cash card, which you can only use to withdraw money from cash points.
• Pay Bills – you can set up direct debits and standing orders to cover regular payments. This can include, gas and electricity bills, Council Tax or transfers into a saving account.
• Receive Payments – your employer or the Job Centre Plus can pay your wages/benefits directly into your account. You can also receive other bank transfers or pay in cash/cheques.

How is it different to other current accounts?
The main difference between current accounts and basic bank accounts is that basic bank accounts do not come with an overdraft facility. This means you can only spend what is in your account and you cannot borrow additional money from the bank.
You will also not receive any interest on the money you hold in a basic bank account.

How do I get one?
Most banks and building societies now offer basic bank accounts. Bear in mind, banks don’t generally advertise them, so you will need to go into a branch and specifically ask for one; alternatively you can apply online. Below is a list of the top 15 providers compiled by independent consumer magazine, Which?

Bank accounts List

Cooking on a budget?

Did you know that paying for your weekly food shop is one of your largest household expenses? If you’re looking to make your money go further every month, cooking on a budget could be the best way!

We will be running a series of articles to help you cook effectively on a budget. This week we will be looking at

 Special Offers! Special Offers. Are they really that special?

You know what it’s like. You get to the supermarket and every aisle is screaming
SPECIAL OFFERS. Nearly 40% of items that we buy from the supermarkets are promotional offers. Yet are these offers really thrifty bargains?

  • Check the Unit Pricing
    A good way to see if you are getting the best value for money is to check the unit pricing. This is the little tag under the item and will show you the price per unit (in Kg’s, ml’s etc).  This is a good way to check whether items of different sizes are good value for money.
  • Price Cuts- but is it really?
    You’ve seen the signs, 30% off, was £40 now £25. You name it, supermarkets do it. Yet often, there hasn’t actually been a price reduction. There are times when an item was marked at a higher price for a short time before, meaning that you are actually only paying normal price. Supermarkets often price things higher for a short period then reduce the cost. You might think you’re getting a bargain but actually you’re paying normal price.
  • Multibuys- get one free? Why not?
    These are your classic Buy One, Get One Free offers. if you need more than one of a particular item then these offers can save you money. If not,  you are spending more money for no reason, think milk, fruit, it all goes off very quickly!  Sometimes retailers will increase the single unit price during a promotion to make these offers appear more attractive.
  • Packaging
    Sometimes bigger packs are often labelled as a ‘Value Pack. ’ This makes you think it will be cheaper overall.  However, sometimes it is cheaper to buy smaller packs! Its time consuming but it’s good practice to check the unit pricing (above) to compare the  price.

Should you have any concerns or questions regarding food poverty and how it might be affecting you please tap the chat button and speak to one of our Dosh Mentors.

Universal Credit

People have been hearing a lot about Universal Credit (UC) – often with conflicting or misleading information about what it is and how it will impact them. This blog aims to spell out what UC is, how it is paid and when it will be coming to different areas.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a single, monthly payment to support those who are out of work or who are in work but on a low income. It will replace some of the benefits and tax credits that people might be receiving at this current time, such as:

• Income-based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
• Income-related Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
• Income Support
• Child Tax Credit
• Working Tax Credit
• Housing Benefit

Who can apply?

To be able to apply you must:

• be living in England, Scotland or Wales;
• be 18 or over;
• be under State Pension age;
• not be in full-time education; and
• not have savings or capital (own property) over £16,000.

Universal Credit – key points

For now, single individuals making a new benefits claim will be placed on Universal Credit; however, more job centres are taking UC claims from couples and families. When you make an application online you will be advised whether you are in a ‘live’ or a ‘full’ service area. If you are in a live service area then only single claims will receive Universal Credit; in a full service area, families and joint claims will go on Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is paid directly to you; the amount that you receive will also include the money to pay your rent (if you were entitled to Housing Benefit). Therefore, you will now be responsible for paying your landlord directly.
Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears; this means that it can take up to 6 weeks after you make a claim to get your first payment. It is important to ensure that you have the funds to cover yourself for this period.
There are no limits on the number of hours you can work in a week whilst on UC. Instead, the amount of UC you receive is based on how much money you earn. The more you earn the less UC you will receive.
You can only make a new claim online. Click here to make a claim. There is a telephone helpline: 0345 600 0723, should you need help applying.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding Universal Credit and how it might affect you, just tap the chat button and speak to one of our Dosh Mentors.

Credit Card debt piling up?

1. Switch to a 0% balance transfer credit card
Is the interest rate on your credit card stifling your finances? Well, you’re not alone.
The average interest rate on credit card debt has reached an eye watering 18%.
If you feel like you’re paying too much, why not switch to a 0% balance transfer deal? The best deals currently offer 28 months, interest free. A comparison of all the best deals can be found here.

2. Reject increases in your credit card’s annual interest rate (APR)
If your credit card company contacts you saying they’re going to push up the interest rate on your existing debts, well, that’s not your problem!
Legally, you have 60 days to contact the company and reject the increase. You won’t be able to commit to any more spending on that card; however, you will be able to repay any existing debt at your old, lower rate.

3. Avoid payday loans and opt for more ‘friendly’ local credit unions
QuickQuid. Wizzcash. You name it- don’t use them.
Loans from local credit unions offer MUCH more friendly interest rates and by friendly I’m talking 3% max!
Plus, you won’t have to pay any set-up fees, admin costs or early redemption fees. Have a look at Which? guide for borrowing from a Credit Union.

4. Get an authorised overdraft
Do you feel like you’re always dangerously close to your overdraft limit? Contact your bank ASAP. They might be willing to increase your limit and you can avoid those horrendous bank charges that are often more expensive than a payday loan.
Best banks accounts for authorised overdrafts can be found here.

5. Free help from A2Dominion’s expert, finance mentors
We have three dedicated mentors who offer free, confidential advice with your finances. If you would like to get in touch and find out more click here