What are the key themes you’ve noticed from your research so far?
Although we’re only halfway through our pilot at the moment, the key themes have mainly been in response to the alerts. They have triggered useful money conversations for people, which consequently helps someone with mental health difficulties to share the burden with someone they trust. We’ve had feedback that said, “I feel a weight has been lifted because my husband understands what I’m struggling with.” People are starting to have these important conversations because they’re informal and timely.
We've also found that because the participants are aware of the alerts, they are being more mindful about their spending. The very act of having an accountability partner, someone who holds you responsible if you spend too much, has helped some of the participants monitor their bank balance more often. Interestingly, we also found that the third party needs some support too. We’ve got a few participants on our pilot whose carers are vulnerable themselves, so we need to make sure that we’re not overloading someone with responsibility or burdening them. Our next version of the product will look at more structured ways support can be enabled by Toucan.
In your own words, how would you describe the impact that Toucan will have?
According to The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute 400,000 people in England and Wales alone, in one year, considered taking their own life because of money issues. 100,000 of those did try to take their own life because of money problems. The stigma around debt is a particular problem; people don’t want to tell their closest family and friends that they’re having trouble.The dream for Toucan is to enable a society where people feel much more comfortable having informed money conversations.
That’s not just about carers, that’s about all of us. We believe that the world would be much better if people talked about money more openly. The stigma's around spending habits and debts block us from sharing useful advice about what we might earn and how we might save money.
There’s a lot of shame around talking about money, and so our product is trying to enable those conversations and in a way that’s safe and timely. So, in the future, our product won’t necessarily just be for carers, it will be for couples, flatmates, family, people we trust. That’s where we start, with relationships based on trust; we want to plug into existing support networks that help create those money conversations. We think that’s powerful.