New Financial Inclusion officers at Cumnock's Robert Burns Academy are now on-hand to offer support and guidance to children and young people.

A decision was taken by the Cabinet in 2022 to allocate additional funding to the Financial Inclusion Team to allow the expansion of a project that was piloted at Loudoun Academy.

This successful pilot saw a Financial Inclusion Officer based within the school providing support and guidance to children and young people, their families and to the local cluster primary schools and Early Childhood Centres.

Eight Financial Inclusion Team members have been recruited and are based within every secondary school in East Ayrshire.

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They are working to ensure that families can access all the benefits and grants they are entitled to, maximising the family income.

They also help to manage emergency situations as they arise and have access to a £50,000 Cost of Living fund that allows them to provide discretionary free school meals to children and young people for up to eight weeks.

Councillor Elaine Cowan, Spokesperson for Education, and Children and Young People met with Head Teacher Peter Gilchrist, Depute Head Vicky Grove, John Dalton and Debbie Nicoll from the Financial Inclusion team and Laura Greer and John Scally, the Financial Inclusion officers based with the campus.

Cumnock Chronicle: Cllr Cowan with Financial Inclusion Officers Laura Greer and John ScallyCllr Cowan with Financial Inclusion Officers Laura Greer and John Scally (Image: East Ayrshire Council)

Councillor Cowan said: “The role of the Financial Inclusion team is to support the outreach work already carried out by the Campus and to speak directly to local families about financial issues that may be worrying them.

"This can take place in school or the team can meet our families at their home or in a neutral meeting space, for example they could meet somewhere for a coffee to just have a chat.

"They have knowledge and experience that can really make a difference to local families and it is definitely worth getting in touch with them to ensure that your family is receiving all the support they are due.”