Hope for Justice joins Barclays to discuss challenges faced by modern slavery survivors in accessing banking

Experts from Hope for Justice addressed a large audience of banking professionals at an event yesterday (January 22nd) as part of the Finance Against Slavery & Trafficking (FAST) Survivor Inclusion Initiative, of which Hope for Justice and Barclays are members.

The event at Barclays’ offices in Canary Wharf, London, was to inform and educate Barclays staff and discuss key points including:

-The role the financial sector can play in the effort to reduce the number of people (40.3 million globally) in modern slavery
-The challenges faced by survivors in accessing banking services, g. a lack of identity documents or permanent address
-How Hope for Justice’s Independent Modern Slavery Advocates help survivors overcome these challenges
-Working relationships between financial institutions and anti-trafficking organisations
-Recommendations for improvements in policies and practices around how banks treat survivors of modern slavery
-The work of Barclays’ Vulnerable Circumstances Team

Laura Gautrey, one of Hope for Justice’s team of Independent Modern Slavery Advocates, who spoke at the panel session, said: “We were really pleased to share our frontline experiences working with survivors and their experiences in trying to access financial services that most of us take for granted. Survivors of modern slavery often have complex needs and vulnerabilities as well as complicated financial histories because of their trafficking experience and linked issues such as debt, identity fraud and lack of paperwork. In the past, this has been very challenging and time-consuming, and held survivors back. Thanks to the Survivor Inclusion Initiative and the positive steps being taken by banks like Barclays, we are hopeful that recent progress continues to accelerate.”

Why it matters

Survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking often find that traffickers have hijacked their financial identity or banking products for money laundering or other criminal purposes, spoiling their credit record and increasing their risk of re-victimization.

The Survivor Inclusion Initiative provides financial institutions, service providers, regulators, governmental actors and other key stakeholders a framework to match identified survivors to basic financial services, such as chequing and savings accounts as well as debit cards.

FAST members

As well as Barclays, other participating financial institutions in the Survivor Inclusion Initiative include Bank of America, Bank of the West, BB&T, BMO Financial Group, Citi, Erste Bank, HSBC, LCNB National Bank, Scotiabank, US Bank and Wells Fargo. Hope for Justice is one of just a few charities involved, because of our long experience as a survivor service provider organisation.

FAST’s ‘Blueprint’ provides a collective action framework for the whole financial sector and professional service providers to accelerate action to end modern slavery and human trafficking. Its goals include: Compliance with laws against modern slavery and human trafficking; knowing and showing modern slavery and human trafficking risks; using leverage creatively to mitigate and address modern slavery and human trafficking risks; providing and enabling effective remedy for modern slavery and human trafficking harms; and investment in innovation for prevention.


Creating opportunities for survivors

Hope for Justice strongly welcomes and supports the Survivor Inclusion Initiative and the principle of eliminating the barriers that stand in the way of survivors of trafficking being able to reintegrate back into a normal life and to do the things that the rest of us take for granted. So many of those we support have a poor credit history as a consequence of their trafficking experience, or have had their identities used fraudulently for financial gain by those who exploited them. If financial institutions are able to work with support providers like Hope for Justice to recognize and accommodate the unique circumstances faced by survivors of this crime, it will help clear a path for them towards a better future in mainstream work and society.

Barclays tweeted after the event: “Modern slavery is a crime in plain sight. Banks can play a huge role in spotting signs and supporting survivors. We are proud to support the Finance Against Slavey & Trafficking (FAST) initiative.”

Modern slavery is a crime in plain sight. Banks can play a huge role in spotting signs and supporting survivors. We are proud to support the Finance Against Slavey & Trafficking (FAST) initiative. Full house today for our exploration of issues. Thank you to @HFJ_UK & @SalvArmyIHQ pic.twitter.com/Aq8BA5QUX9

— Barclays Access (@BarclaysAccess) January 22, 2020

Raymond Pettitt, Head of Retail Segments & Interim Head of Current Accounts, Payments and Insurance at Barclays UK, said: “By coming together with other banks through this initiative, I am confident that we can make a positive change for victims of modern slavery and human trafficking. Our aim is to help survivors of these heinous crimes get back on their feet more quickly by providing them with access to a range of banking services. Something as simple as a bank account, is a key tool in helping victims integrate into local community life. This programme will help standardise processes across the banking sector and will provide victims with crucial and more streamlined support.”

A full list of Commission members can be found at: financialsectorcommission.org or fastinitiative.org

Read more about Hope for Justice’s role in the launch of FAST at the UN in New York in September 2019 alongside the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research and the Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking here.

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