Here at SEA we take all the opportunities we can to talk about economic abuse, the work we do to raise awareness of and transform responses to it, and what more needs to be done to support victim-survivors. Talk Money Week, which ran from Monday 9th to Friday 13th November, was the perfect chance to do just that.
The week began with a roundtable on tackling domestic abuse in the Covid era hosted by the New Statesman and Lloyds Banking Group. Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs OBE, SEA’s founder and CEO, spoke alongside MPs, and members of the Lords. Other speakers included Pragna Patel, the director of Southall Black Sisters, Fran Ellis, the Chief Executive of Rising Sun and Naomi Donald, a survivor of teenage domestic abuse and a Pioneer for SafeLives. Nicola highlighted SEA’s work on coerced debt, our call for the Domestic Abuse Bill to recognise post-separation abuse, and our work to reform the distribution of Universal Credit to ensure it can be safely accessed by those living with an abuser.
The beginning of the week also saw the publication of Living a financially resilient Life in the UK beyond Covid-19 by the Chartered Insurance Institute. Thanks to previous work with SEA, the report makes a continued commitment to supporting victims of economic abuse. Jane Portas, co-founder of Insuring Women’s Future, a cross sector programme led by the CII, told SEA “This latest analysis highlights the even greater need to support financial abuse survivors. It is vital they receive access to financial guidance and debt support, and that firms’ vulnerable customers policies respond to and address the circumstances faced by survivors to ensure they experience appropriate support and fair customer outcomes.”
Next up, Nicola gave a lunchtime briefing to over 170 members of staff at PWC on economic abuse. Her words clearly made an impact: “I already know that you’ve changed lives and outlooks of victims and survivors in that hour alone”, wrote one attendee on Twitter afterwards.
Gemma Godfrey, one of the UK’s leading Fintech entrepreneurs, also helped spread our message to mark Talk Money Week. Her video on the five things you need to know about joint accounts, signposting to the SEA website for support, went out to her audience of over 60,0000 followers.
Meanwhile, Nicola was featured on the FinTech Insider podcast alongside representatives from Monzo bank and MX, contributing to a discussion about economic abuse and the role that financial institutions can play in preventing it.
But it was Friday that was the big day for team SEA as we published the full evaluation report of the completed Economic Justice Project – the culmination of three years of research exploring the relationship between economic abuse and debt. To mark the publication of the report, we also kicked off the first in a series of six running from now to December. Our first webinar was dedicated to the issue of coerced debt and by the start of the week, due to popular demand, we had to increase space for attendees.
The panel included a representative from our partners at Money Advice Plus, Rebecca, a survivor who we had helped write debt off for, the Designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales, Nicole Jacobs and SEA’s Debt and Benefit Specialist, Judy Barber and it was chaired by Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs. It was free to attend and received yet more great feedback. One attendee wrote “Well done Nicola and thank you to you and your team for enabling survivors and their families to find a path both now and in the future to have financial stability they deserve. Economic Abuse is another insidious sand often forgotten part of domestic abuse”
Talk Money Week was even more important this year as the nation finds itself in a second lockdown, just ahead of winter. For victims of abuse, this is a dangerous and desperately hard time. In 2020, it was crucial – and maybe even life-saving – to talk about money.