Small and local charity ACCI on connecting with their local Lloyds Bank pool

Denzil Fletcher, Deputy Services Manager from African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI), shares how a relationship with the local Lloyds Bank pool led to one of ACCI’s members accessing banking without the need for conventional ID. 

One of our staff members accompanied Nelson to the Wolverhampton Queens Square branch with the signed letter from ACCI. They met staff, who opened a new account thanks to the letter we provided. Our staff member said that she and Nelson felt like a celebrity and that Lloyds bank staff were helpful, with the letter helping to break the ice because Nelson’s mental health issues aren’t immediately recognisable.

- Denzil Fletcher, Deputy Services Manager at African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI)

As a corporate charitable foundation, we work closely with Lloyds Banking Group to nurture relationships with bank staff and small charities. The exchange of knowledge and expertise that emerges from these connections can be mutually beneficial for both charities and branches and often leads to better support for local people facing complex social issues.

Denzil Fletcher is the Deputy Services Manager from African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI). Denzel shares how a relationship with the local Lloyds Bank branch led to one of ACCI’s members being able to access banking without the need for conventional ID. 

 

About African Caribbean Community Initiative and the impact of COVID

“The African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI) is based in the heart of the local community in Whitmore Reans Wolverhampton and provides support for those suffering from mental ill-health.

Initially set up as the Wolverhampton Rastafarian Progressive Association in 1987 to address the alarmingly disproportionate over-representation of African Caribbean people suffering from or at risk of mental ill-health. At the time there was also a lack of compassion and empathy for the African Caribbean people in the care system.

Since its inception, the charity has been at the forefront of supportive services for individuals affected by mental ill-health and raising awareness within the local community.

Throughout the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, ACCI continued to provide a specialist service, adapting to the needs of our members who feared the information on the news. Many of the people we work with also don’t have access to phones, laptops, or the internet. As everyone overhauled their operations to work remotely and deliver services online, many of the people we work with were left in isolation and without the opportunity to find reliable information, shop for daily essentials safely or access necessary help.

We delivered meals daily to our members, ensuring that they had at least one hot meal everyday. We made daily wellbeing calls to members, conducted doorstep visits, maintaining social distancing in line with the guidance from Public Health England (PHE). 

Staff met with members and kept in touch with them via all the available platforms, including WhatsApp messaging and video calls.

Although the national lockdown restrictions eventually lifted, we continued the procedures we adopted throughout lockdown, testing of all staff, members, outside agencies and cleaning all furniture used in the centre that arrives into the wellbeing hub.”

 

Connecting with Lloyds Banking Group

“Peter Cunnison, Regional Manager at Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, contacted ACCI to connect them with their local branch. This led to myself and the team meeting Joanne Whitehouse, Senior Bank Manager at Lloyds Bank Wolverhampton, alongside several members of Lloyds Bank, via a zoom meeting.

ACCI staff then gave a presentation to Lloyds Bank, giving them an overview of the services that ACCI provides. We also offered Lloyds Bank branch staff awareness training and how to support people who have mental health issues. This included ways for staff to address situations.

 

Supporting members with banking services

This connection proved invaluable in helping us support our members who were facing difficulties in banking, for example, Nelson*. Nelson initially held an account with the Post Office, which they used to receive his welfare benefits. However, due to the Post office changing their systems, Nelson had to find a new bank to access his benefits.

Nelson approached several banks to help him join as a new customer, but none of them could help. Nelson had confided to ACCI staff that he was having great difficulty opening an account. The main reason was insufficient identification to meet the bank’s criteria. He had no passport, driving licence/photo ID, and because he was sofa surfing with his brother, he didn’t have utility bills in his name.

This situation was causing a degree of frustration for Nelson. These obstacles also added to his mental ill-health, as there were time constraints to finding a bank.

After our first training session with Lloyds Banking Group branch staff, we spoke to Joanne about Nelson’s predicament. They were able to suggest alternative ID options, which meant Nelson could open an account with the Lloyds Bank branch in Wolverhampton. 

One of our staff members accompanied Nelson to the Wolverhampton Queens Square branch. They met staff, who opened a new account. Our staff member said that she and Nelson felt like a celebrity and that Lloyds bank staff were helpful, because Nelson’s mental health issues aren’t immediately recognisable.”

Lloyds Banking Group – Joanne Whitehouse – Wolverhampton Lloyds Bank Pool

“In this instance, we had a member of ACCI who needed banking facilities. The connection with Denzil Fletcher, Deputy Services Manager, was invaluable as we were able to share with Denzil the information we would need to open a bank account successfully for the customer and were then able to reassure the charity that we were here to help. We then set up a three-way meeting in the branch with our colleague, the member of ACCI, and their support worker to open the bank account.

We are now working even closer with ACCI as I feel they now trust us to help their members with any future banking facilities. We will also take this learning to help us identify any other vulnerable customers who we can help with their complex needs in the future.”

*Names have been changed to protect identity

Joanne and colleague standing outside the ACCI sign

Joanne Whitehouse (right) with colleague Hannah Taylor

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