Brooke* is a survivor of modern slavery supported by the Salvation Army. Her long-term goals are to help fight human trafficking, raise awareness of the issues in her home country and to become a foster parent, providing a home for vulnerable children when they need it most.
To work towards this, Brooke wants to learn how to save money and manage her finances so that she won’t need to depend on anyone again or fall back into exploitation. In her own words:
“If I’m saving my money, then I’m on the right path financially, because finances are the ones that cause people to manipulate us”.
Currently, Brooke is saving towards her goals through her account at HSBC. However, it wasn’t initially easy to open an account. Before she approached HSBC, Brooke tried many different banks but was unable to open an account because she did not have the necessary documents and had not been granted refugee status. Brooke was receiving support under the National Referral Mechanism, the UK framework for identifying and supporting survivors of modern slavery. However, this was not recognised by the banks she approached. She says:
“When I went to the bank they said that I couldn’t open an account because I wasn’t an asylum seeker. They wanted a letter from the Home Office to say that I was an asylum seeker. They did not recognise victims of human trafficking…”
“…They were so rude, even talking to me publicly saying it out loud… what is this NRM?… These are things you have to be conscious of and talk to someone privately. Because if I’m in the NRM it means I’m under protection…”
For Brooke, one of the most important elements of financial empowerment is having control over her own finances.
“I have to learn to do things myself. So for someone to control my finances, that’s not being in charge. That’s dependency and [that’s how] they took advantage of me… I have to be financially independent.”
Access to an account and support to manage her own finances, have given Brooke a sense of purpose and belonging. They have enabled her to work towards her goals and will empower her to achieve her aspirations, taking a stand to help raise awareness of modern slavery and becoming a foster parent, providing life-changing support for children who themselves would otherwise be vulnerable to exploitation.