Nationwide has become the first bank or building society to offer ReachOut – a free service for the Society’s members to provide support, reassurance and confidence to those impacted by financial hardship.
Britain’s biggest building society is building on the ways it can help its members who are struggling financially to get back on track. It comes at a time when the rise in cost of living continues to put pressure on household finances across the UK.
Back in 2021, Nationwide helped lead the creation of the Inclusive Economy Partnership’s Code of Best Practice for Debt Collection & Recovery – setting an industry standard for the way debt is handled by institutions across different sectors. This latest partnership builds on the Society’s credentials as an organisation that wants help create the right conditions for people to be able to resolve their debt.
ReachOut is a service offered through Sigma Connected. Specialist ReachOut advisers, known as Pathfinders, offer a confidential space, where they take the time to listen and understand each member’s unique circumstances. They then offer guidance towards certain charities who can help with applying for specialised grants or that provide financial, mental and physical wellbeing support. Crucially, at no point is money ever requested, or a debt asked to be repaid. Their sole aim is to give those who are referred the knowledge, support and encouragement needed so that they feel empowered to take more control of their situation and improve their ability to manage all of their debts, before gently facilitating a conversation back to Nationwide.
Following an initial trial, ReachOut and Nationwide helped more than 100 members get back on track. Pathfinders identified a number of these members as needing wellbeing support and were put in contact with charities who could provide the specialist support members required.
In addition to ReachOut, Nationwide has a host of financial wellbeing support content which can be found on Nationwide.co.uk. It allows people to access a range of information and vital support, as well as helping them manage their finances more effectively. For those in need of debt management advice, members can access StepChange or PayPlan via the Nationwide website. Both of these are impartial, fee-free debt advice organisations which support people to repay debt at a rate they can afford, often alleviating the sense of overwhelming worry.
The Society also works closely with IncomeMax - an organisation specialising in benefit income maximisation on behalf of the member. This free service for Nationwide members means that those who are referred are able to make the most of their money and ensure they are claiming all the benefits they are entitled too. This, in itself, can be life changing for some.
Jasper Davy, Nationwide’s Director of Support, said: “Many people are finding life increasingly hard given the cost pressures coming from all directions. As a responsible lender, we need to do what we can to help ease the burden, making the conditions better for people to feel able to make repayments.
“As a mutual, owned by and run for the benefit of its members, working with ReachOut is a natural fit. It follows our progressive work in making it easier for our members to seek the help they need in managing their finances. The results of the pilot have been really encouraging, leading us to adopt the service as one of the ways we can help those who are struggling the most.”
Gary Gilburd, CEO of Sigma Connected, added: “ReachOut has been a hugely successful and impactful service and it is now helping thousands of people every month. To partner with Nationwide is another important milestone and we look forward to supporting their members and making a real, lasting difference.
“More than anything, ReachOut is all about engaging with and really listening to vulnerable people and those in debt. Our Pathfinders work hard to understand why customers are finding their bills difficult to manage, and then signpost them to the best possible financial, emotional and wellbeing support, eventually guiding them back to Nationwide’s own teams.”