Escaping economic abuse during Covid-19 lockdown – the story of an abused former NHS nurse
A retired NHS nurse who had been suffering financial exploitation from her family approached Homefinder UK for support during England’s first national lockdown. Circumstances had led her to sell her property to avoid repossession and thereafter, under great duress her family repeatedly ‘borrowed’ money from her nursing pension. “Of course, the family members had no intention of paying back the so called ‘loan’ and avoided every attempt by her to recoup her own money. They avoided her at all cost” explains Brenda Fraser, Homefinder UK’s service manager. She stayed where she could, paid for hotels, B&Bs and slept in her car for 2 years, and by the time she approached Homefinder UK, she had sold her car to pay off other debts and was sleeping on her son’s balcony. When her son and his partner demanded more money from the nurse and she had none to give, they took her gold necklace.
Despite the fact that all social housing lettings were on hold due to Covid-19 restrictions, Homefinder UK reached out to their partner housing associations across the country and was able to secure a home in the South of England, not too far from her grandchildren. Sanctuary Housing Association identified a property and helped to urgently facilitate the move just seven days after the initial call for help.
Unfortunately, the property was let out completely empty and the lockdown restrictions meant that the local authority was unable to tap into the Emergency Support Scheme. However, the Homefinder UK team worked resolutely to secure two lots of funding which totalled to £6,000 to go towards living expenses, white goods and some basic furniture.
This case highlights the urgent need to unblock restrictions to new housing opportunities for highly vulnerable cases such as those experiencing homelessness or domestic abuse – whilst not compromising the Covid-19 physical contact and distance guidelines.