The HSBC UK Birkenhead branch at The Pyramids on Grange Road has opened the 1000th bank account for individuals experiencing homelessness or housing issues, as part of HSBC UK’s No Fixed Address service.
Launched in December 2019, the service is available in over 115 branches and provides people with access to a basic bank account without the need for photo ID or proof of address – documents that many people who are homeless do not have or find difficult to keep safe. Having a bank account makes it easier for people to claim benefits, receive wages and pay rent.
Individuals supported by Shelter or one of the other 100 charities working with HSBC UK can open an account in branch when supported by a caseworker from the organisation who can verify their identity.
HSBC UK’s 1000th customer through the No Fixed Address service, Eddie*, was referred to the Birkenhead branch by local homeless shelter Wirral Ark.
Eddie is 34 years old and became homeless in 2019 after his relationship broke down due to him losing his job. With no accommodation and no income he felt he had nowhere to turn so began sleeping at a night shelter. He was there when the pandemic hit and after a few days was offered temporary accommodation at a local B&B but without a bank account was unable to apply for permanent housing.
He says, “One of the requirements of being accepted for housing is a bank account which I didn’t have. I’d been turned away by banks in the past as I’d lost my ID when I became homeless. After being referred to Wirral Ark they told me about the HSBC UK No Fixed Address service and set up a meeting. I was overwhelmed with the support I received from the bank and life was looking a little better. That same week I was offered a one-bedroom flat with a local social housing provider and I was more than happy when they asked if I had a bank account as I could now move forward with the application.”
“I’m now pleased to say I have my own home and life is that much brighter thanks to the support of the HSBC UK No Fixed Address service.”
Joanne Hornblower, HSBC UK’s Local Director for Birkenhead, said, “Homelessness is a huge issue affecting the UK, even more so since the pandemic hit. In Merseyside, there are still people sleeping on the streets and hundreds more homeless and in temporary accommodation. I’m extremely proud to offer this service to those who need it in the local community and it’s heartwarming to see the difference it has made to people such as Eddie.
“The No Fixed Address service was founded in Merseyside so it’s fitting that we have hit this milestone right where the very first account was opened.”
Paul Hardman, CEO of Wirral Ark, said, “Homelessness is a complex issue and our clients experience multiple barriers and exclusions which make securing an independent future incredibly challenging. We have seen first-hand the powerful impact HSBC UK’s No Fixed Address service can make by helping our clients.
“Without this service our clients cannot access the benefits they need to get their life back on track, seek employment or secure their own home, which undermines their attempts to rebuild their lives and escape the devastating cycle of homelessness. We saw the impact on homeless people who did not have bank cards during the food shortage of the first lockdown. Many of our residents could not purchase food online or in shops as they were unable to use cash. We congratulate HSBC UK for the service and we are delighted that one of our clients is the 1000th beneficiary of the No Fixed Address programme.”
Jo Cutler, Shelter’s Merseyside Hub Manager, said, “As this pandemic has shown, home is everything. Yet our housing emergency means thousands of people across the country don’t have one – and sometimes this means they are left sleeping on the street. Surviving without somewhere warm, clean or safe to call home is hard enough. Not having a bank account to do vital things like access benefits or get your wages paid makes it even harder.
“We’re proud the No Fixed Address scheme has already helped a thousand people take the first steps towards gaining the financial independence that will help them rebuild their lives. And we look forward to working closely with HSBC UK to expand this life-changing service to more parts of the country.”
For more information on No Fixed Address, including which branches offer the service, please visit: https://www.hsbc.co.uk/help/money-worries/no-fixed-address/
*Name has been changed to protect customer’s identity
Image: HSBC staff at Birkenhead (L-R) Diane, Rachel, Rhian (who opened the 1000th account), Branch Manager – Angela, and Lyndsey. Credit: www.fotopiaimages.com