Turning your passion into cash: Money for Jam to keep older women out of poverty

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Two women standing outside look up into a smart phone to take a selfie.

The phrase “money for jam” means getting paid to not work very hard, but a group of women in Melbourne are about to take that saying in a new direction.

Money for Jam is the name of new program designed to help women over the age of 50 supplement their incomes.

Advocacy groups say older women are increasingly at risk of homelessness and unemployment, and the scheme aims to tackle the problem by taking a woman’s hobby or passion and turning it into an income stream.

If you like dog-walking, gardening, photography or pet-grooming, there’s probably a market for your services — you just need to work out how to tap into it.

The Money for Jam program provides mentoring for women at risk of homelessness to turn their hobbies into micro-enterprises.

Enterprising women get a fresh start

A smiling woman kneels with her pet dog.

Amanda Harrison wants to start a home pet care service.

“I go into your home and look after your animals while you’re away,” she said.

Kaye Uiterwyk wants to teach digital photography skills for those not so tech savvy.

She said it’s not just about providing lessons, but also mentoring and friendship.

“[It’s for] older people who want to take up a stimulating new hobby,” she said.

Anne Winter wants to earn money by walking dogs.

“Because it would help me keep fit and I love animals – particularly dogs,” she said.

She doesn’t expect to earn a fortune.

“Just enough to give me the dignity I need and to feel that I’ve done a good job,” she said.

Addressing a growing problem

The program started last year with ideas from 13 women, but independent think tank Per Capita is now launching an expanded pilot to help 80.

Executive director Emma Dawson said women over the age of 50 are the fastest-growing group of homeless people in Australia.

She said many older women have specific skillsets that can generate income, but they often need assistance to create an effective business model.

“It’s a way of looking at what they can do, not only to augment their income, but also to build their confidence and build networks of support and really develop their own skills,” she said.

Ms Dawson said if the plan is successful, the organisation aims to make the program available to other organisations and welfare groups around Australia.

First published by the ABC on 15 September 2017.