Money and Mental Health wins Best Consumer Campaign award for Recovery Space

28 March 2019


The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has been awarded Best Consumer Campaign at the National Campaigner Awards by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) for its successful Recovery Space campaign.


SMK’s National Campaigner Awards recognise campaigners who are making a difference to our communities, our lives and our society. Money and Mental Health was awarded the best Consumer Campaign in recognition of the charity’s Recovery Space campaign, which in 2018 secured a government commitment to extend its Breathing Space debt respite scheme to people in England experiencing a mental health crisis each year.

Originally the Breathing Space scheme was designed only to apply to people seeking advice for problem debt, who would receive a six week break from further fees or collections activity on their debt.

This would have excluded the tens of thousands of people who go through a mental health crisis each year, for whom seeking debt advice can be an impossible task. As a result, people in acute distress would have been left at risk of falling into further financial difficulty with mounting fees and charges, while also receiving calls and emails from creditors – which can be a contributing factor to people becoming suicidal.

Money and Mental Health’s Recovery Space campaign set out to address this problem. The charity’s petition calling on the government to include people experiencing a crisis in its Breathing Space plans gained 10,500 signatures, and the campaign received the backing of 23 national charities and organisations. Money and Mental Health also secured widespread media coverage and worked with cross-party MPs to table an amendment to Breathing Space legislation, which more than 80 MPs backed.

As a result, the government committed to changing the scheme so that anyone using mental health crisis services gets respite from escalating debts and collections activity for the duration of their care.


Helen Undy, Chief Executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded Best Consumer Campaign at the National Campaigner Awards, and to be recognised alongside so many other great campaigns. We’re proud that the government recognised the need to ensure people going through a crisis get the space they need to get better, without having to deal with financial problems. That’s down to the incredible support of the 23 charities, 80 MPs and 10,000 campaigners who backed our campaign, and we want to say a big thanks to them for helping us make this happen.

“We will continue to work hard to make sure the Government delivers that pledge, so that everyone experiencing a mental health crisis gets an opportunity to recover free from escalating debt fees, charges and the threat of bailiffs at their door.”

Sue Tibballs, Chief Executive of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, said: “The SMK Campaigner Awards are a unique opportunity to celebrate some of the most inspiring, innovative and often courageous people who are speaking out to effect change. Our communities are fairer, safe, kinder and more tolerant as a result. Our thanks and congratulations to them all!”




About Money and Mental Health Policy Institute


  • The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute was set up by Martin Lewis in spring 2016, registered charity number 1166493.
  • It conducts research and develops policies for essential services firms, regulators, the health service and government to help people with mental health problems protect themselves from financial difficulties and get out of debt.
  • Martin Lewis OBE, Money Saving Expert, is an award-winning campaigning broadcaster, newspaper columnist and author. He founded in 2003 for £100 and remains its full-time Editor-in-Chief. It is now the UK’s biggest money site, with more than 14 million monthly users. Martin has his own prime-time ITV programme – The Martin Lewis Money Show – and is resident expert on This Morning, Good Morning Britain and BBC Radio 5 Live’s Consumer Panel, among others.
  • Helen Undy is a passionate mental health campaigner and became the Institute’s Director in 2018, having previously led the Institute’s impact and communications work.

Notes for editors:

  • The SMK Campaigner Awards celebrate the best campaigns and campaigners – whether working locally or nationally, and from individuals and community groups to people working in large organisations. Our interest is in finding those who have made change happen – most effectively, creatively and courageously.
  • SMK was established in 2005 to help develop a new generation of campaigners. Set up in memory of Dame Sheila McKechnie, SMK is entirely dedicated to helping campaigners create positive and lasting social change.
  • More information about the 2019 Awards: