The people who Barnabus supports are often very vulnerable and can fall victim to various forms of abuse. Just recently, we helped two men who had faced two different types of abuse: Glen* and Keith*.

Here, we explain how we were able to help Glen and Keith overcome their challenges, learn skills to avoid future abuse, and continue on their path to recovery.

Glen’s story

Glen fell victim to a cycle of financial abuse for five years. He had no fixed address, and this combined with his chaotic lifestyle meant he had no bank account. To receive benefits like Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments, he used other people’s accounts. Not only did this result in him having extremely unsettled finances, but many of the people whose bank accounts he used would often take advantage of him by charging him to use their account. They would then delay giving him his money or, even worse, take the lot.

We’ve known Glen for a while but he hadn’t engaged much with our support team, and he had never come to us for help with his finances. However, after hearing about what he was doing to work around his lack of a bank account, our team sat down with him. We explained that the system had changed and that it was now much easier to open an account without a fixed address. Together, we set him up with an HSBC account and transferred all his payments across.

It is situations like these that are why we teach financial management skills to our friends – including how to make bank transfers, budget properly, use online banking and read bank statements.

We’re delighted that Glen feels that he will no longer be exploited in this way and instead is able to make regular debt payments and finally pay them off. This will also give him more independence – he’ll no longer end up in situations where he has no money because it has been taken from him, and he’ll no longer end up reliant on food parcels or unable to pay rent.

Keith’s story

While financial abuse can often be hard to spot, other forms are more apparent. That was the case with Keith, who is living in nearby temporary accommodation and has been supported by us for many years. He came to us claiming that he was being bullied by another resident in his building who was also stealing his money.

We spoke to the council about getting Keith moved to another building while this matter was being investigated. This isn’t something we’d normally recommend as it may mean our friends find themselves in less suitable accommodation; sadly, because of the rigid accommodation systems we work in where there are too few beds, moving once means you’ll be extremely unlikely to move again. We spoke to Keith about this and persuaded him to stay and try to resolve the issue.

After speaking to the accommodation managers, it became apparent that the bully was being very problematic with other residents too. The individual was moved out as a result, making the building safer for everyone and meaning Keith was able to stay in his accommodation.

Support is vital – and you can help

The people we help are in a very unstable part of their lives. Many also have mental health problems or addictions, which make them even more vulnerable. When looking for help or people they might rely upon in their lives, they can often be abused – whether that’s by being exploited, robbed or simply threatened.

Suffering from abuse can traumatise anyone, making them distrustful of others and vulnerable to future abuse. This all hinders our friends’ ability to overcome the issues they’re already facing. Our support workers are always working to spot the signs of abuse, and then help our friends escape or overcome the situations they’ve found themselves in.

If you’d like to support our work, you can fundraise, donate or volunteer your time.

*Names have been changed to protect our friends’ identities