As the UK hits the largest recession on record, churches are gearing up to help thousands facing financial difficulty.
Since lockdown, the Just Finance Foundation's Covid Cash Course (CCC) has been training churches and community leaders to guide vulnerable people about how to financially survive the pandemic.
Thanks to a £100,000 grant from Allchurches Trust, the program will now be expanded. The goal is to equip 1,000 churches to inform people about what government help is available, how to manage financial stress and how to successfully budget for the next few months.
As various support schemes implemented by the Government are phased out, 2.6 million people are currently on Universal Credit or Jobseeker's Allowance.
Just Finance Foundation hopes the course will help at least 10,000 vulnerable people make financial decisions at a critical point in their lives.
Sarah Wallace from the organisation told Premier Christian News people sometimes feel more comfortable receiving help from churches.
"We work a lot with churches, and we found that in times of crisis, churches are so often the place that people turn when nothing else is available," she said.
"Under lockdown, so much closed. Citizens Advice Bureau was closed, normal advice centres were closed, and we found that even with churches closed people were knocking on the door, asking for help, because people see that as somewhere that they can still turn to.
"Church food banks have still been running when other food banks have struggled. I think there's such a commitment within the Christian community to making sure that they can help people even under really difficult circumstances."
So far, over 300 community leaders and organisations have already been trained to deliver a Covid Cash Course in their area.
According to Just Finance Foundation, feedback from those who have attended these courses has shown that although 80 per cent of participants begin the course worried about their finances, 96 per cent finish with a clear plan for the next few months and 74 per cent agreed that their stress around money and finances was reduced following the course.
Adeyinka Olushonde, a community worker in Liverpool, who has already rolled out CCC, said: "Uptake for that first event was so successful that within just 24 hours of it being advertised it was sold out - and so I have had to put on two more events in order to meet the rising demand.
"It is great that we have such enthusiasm for the course but, in another way, it is quite telling. Liverpool was already a city with high levels of deprivation and the lockdown has only exacerbated this extremely difficult situation for so many individuals and families."
The £100,000 will enable the course to expand into more deprived areas of the country. Wallace said they are now working in Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Plymouth, the West Midlands and Nottinghamshire.
"It means that we can reach those that need it most who maybe wouldn't turn to mainstream advice services, but would ask someone in their community," Wallace added.
Listen to Premier's full interview with Sarah Wallace here: