Talking Money began its life as Bristol Debt Advice Centre (BDAC) in February 1990, started as a volunteer-run grassroots organisation in response the hardship faced by many in Bristol following the 1980’s recession.
1990 – 2000
In the beginning, volunteers were trained to deliver advice sessions, and a small office space was secured at the Elmgrove Centre in Redland, later relocating to a small shop front premises in the heart of Easton. Community outreach sessions were also established in Knowle West and Lawrence Weston.
Between 1996 and 2009, Nick Park CBE (of Aardman Animations), supported BDAC as patron, providing invaluable support and contributing to the charity’s significant growth. In the late 1990s, BDAC achieved Legal Aid Franchise status, providing welcome financial security and the opportunity for further expansion, including community outreach sessions in Easton, St Pauls and Lockleaze.
2000 – 2010
In 2001, the charity relocated to the top floor of the Sofa Project building on West Street, in the Old Market area of Bristol. In 2006, major funding was secured from the ‘Financial Inclusion Fund’ and BDAC became the lead agency for a partnership of 7 charity’s delivering free face-to-face debt advice in Bristol, North Somerset and Gloucester. Soon after, the Energy Advice Project was launched through funding from the EDF Energy Trust, and a subsequent expansion was made possible through funding from British Gas Energy Trust.
During this period, BDAC expanded its work to include preventive services in addition to free debt advice; developing financial capability work and setting up the ‘Futures Room’ to help clients maximise their income and manage budgets. Consequently, BDAC was jointly appointed with Bristol CAB as Lead Agency for the Wessex Financial Capability Forum.
2010 – Present
By the early 2000s, BDAC had gained national recognition for its expertise in providing debt advice services. In 2011, BDAC’s Advice Manager acted a consultant for Bosnia’s first Debt Advice Centre. The following year a new ‘Secure and Warm’ partnership led by BDAC secured 3 year funding from Comic Relief to deliver money advice to older people.
In 2011, BDAC formed its Welfare Benefits Advice and Casework Service to respond to an increase in clients seeking help with benefit issues. The end of Legal Aid for Debt Advice in 2013 resulted in redundancies and organisational restructuring at the organisation. This change took place against a backdrop of wider challenges, including a global recession following the 2008 financial crisis, cuts to funding in the public and voluntary sectors, rising levels of personal debt, and Welfare Reforms. Despite the challenges faced, BDAC succeeded in securing new and extended funding streams and rebranded with a name change to more accurately reflect the organisation’s mission and service aims.
In February 2014, the refurbishment of the charity’s newly purchased premises at 1 Hide Market on West Street in the Old Market area of Bristol, was complete. The new premises with shop front included a remodelled reception, self-help area and facilities for disabled people to improve service accessibility. The move to 1 Hide Market and change of name from ‘Bristol Debt Advice Centre’ to ‘Talking Money’ were celebrated together at an event attended by Bristol’s Lord Mayor, Cllr. Frank Choudhury.
Today, Talking Money continues to see an unprecedented demand for its services, and staff and volunteers work hard to provide expert advice and support for many people in the local communities served. See here for further information about Talking Money’s services and public recognition of the organisation’s work in recent years.