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Vulnerability Week UK 2024

1st - 5th July 2024


What is Vulnerability Week?

Vulnerability is one of the Collaboration Network’s six main areas of focus. Any customer or colleague can find themselves in a period of vulnerability, whether transient or longer term, and it is crucial that organisations understand how this impacts their ability to engage with them and understand and use their products and services. Organisations have both a regulatory and social responsibility to ensure that good outcomes are achieved for all customers, no matter what their circumstances. It is a topic everyone at the Collaboration Network is passionate about and we continue to encourage collaboration and sharing of best practice to enable Members to deliver the best outcomes for their customers.


The Collaboration Network will host their first annual Vulnerability Week UK  1st - 5th July 2024. The Week is designed to help increase awareness within organisations of people in vulnerable situations and the way all aspects of an organisations products and services impact them. Vulnerability Week UK intends to do this by providing businesses and colleagues a platform to shine a spotlight on different vulnerable circumstances and how they may impact customers and colleagues. Throughout the week the Collaboration Network will be hosting several online and in-person events and encouraging organisations to get involved with various awareness raising initiatives.


Through highlighting different customer and colleague experiences and needs, the week should encourage organisations to consider whether they can further enhance the products and services offered, ultimately raising cross-industry standards and improving the outcomes for all customers. 

Programme for Vulnerability Week UK 2024

The below sessions will be hosted as webinars online via zoom unless stated otherwise. The Vulnerability Summit and Charity Walk will be in-person events.

Monday 1st July 

10.00 - 11.00 | Growth Company - Barriers faced by your customers in prison and how you can overcome these

  • An overview of The Growth Company and the Ministry of Justice Finance Benefit and Debt service we deliver

  • The financial challenges/barriers those within custody/prison face

  • Suggestions for addressing some of these barriers

  • Q&A/discussion




  • Ellie Couldstone (Head of Partnerships and Solutions – Justice)

  • April Howe (Operations Manager – Finance Benefit and Debt)



13.00 – 14.00 | National Support Network – Does Tailored Signposting Drive Better Outcomes?

  • Explore the challenges and opportunities of different signposting strategies with the Founder & CEO of National Support Network, Cat Divers

  • Hear Dr Neda Mahmoodi of the UK Debt Service share how tailored signposting is driving better outcomes for their customers and their business 




15.00 – 16.00 | Economic Abuse and Proactive Responses

An introduction to charities Surviving Economic Abuse and Money Advice Plus, an award-winning partnership that enables systems change and supports victim-survivors to move forward into economic safety and independence. Through this partnership the charities work alongside financial services firms to raise awareness of, and transform responses to, economic abuse. 


The session will cover:

  • What economic abuse is in the context of domestic abuse – how to spot the signs 

  • Practical tools for firms – actionable take aways to better identify and support victim-survivors   

  • Understanding what the Economic Abuse Evidence Form is and how to get involved

  • An overview of what you can do - support options and how to work alongside us


Lauren Garret, Surviving Economic Abuse

Lindsay Newton-Palmer, Money Advice Plus


Tuesday 2nd July 

10.00 - 11.00 Three Hands – Lived experience with NatWest
NatWest’s Inclusive Design Panel – how it helps us understand vulnerability and create a culture of inclusive design.

The Inclusive Design Panel, made up of ‘lived experts’ in a range of vulnerability circumstances, and ‘critical friends’ from charities, gathers monthly to review NatWest products and services. Hannah Jones, Customer Vulnerability Strategy Manager at NatWest and Jan Levy, Managing Director at Three Hands Insight will explain (with the help of lived experts on video):


  • What the panel does and how it works

  • The charities and the vulnerability themes represented

  • How it helps product owners understand vulnerability and make their products more inclusive

  • How it contributes to a culture of inclusive design in the organisation

  • The positive impact on the lived expert panellists



  • Hannah Jones, Customer Vulnerability Strategy Manager at NatWest

  • Jan Levy, Managing Director at Three Hands

12.30 – 1.30 UK Finance Vulnerability Academy Fireside Chat with Chris Fitch and guests


14.00 - 15.00 Policy in Practice – helping customers make the ends meet by accessing unclaimed benefits


Rachael Walker, Director of Policy and Research, Policy in Practice. 

Wednesday 3rd July 

Vulnerability Summit in person at BSI Milton Keynes


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Thursday 4th July

09.30-11.00 Complaints Coffee Club - Complaints through a vulnerability lens.


Guest Chair: 

Rachel Eason-Whale of L&C Mortgages

13.00 – 14.00 British Deaf Association - An Introduction to the Deaf Community and British Sign Language



Andrew Allcock, Employment and Discrimination Adviser

15.00 – 16.00  Improving Outcomes for Customers with Money and Mental Health Problems in 2024 and Beyond

Helen and the team at Money and Mental Health will - 

  • Talk about money and mental health problems and their impact on the ability to manage finances

  • Explore why meeting the needs of customers with mental health problems is essential for regulatory compliance

  • Share recent insights on mental health and financial difficulty, and what essentials services firms could do to better support customers in 2024 and beyond

  • Share an example of how money and mental health works with essential services firms to improve outcomes



Helen Undy, Chief Executive, Money and Mental Health 

Friday 5th July

The annual Collaboration Network 25 miles sponsored Walk in Rochester Kent in aid of Demelza and supported by South East Water


How to get Involved 

There are various opportunities for your organisation to participate in Vulnerability Week UK. The Collaboration Network is sharing this with their cross-sector Members and wider organisations to give everyone the opportunity to be involved with Vulnerability Week. 


Participate in the cost of Living Crisis Survey 2024

In association with YES Energy Solutions, the Collaboration Network is running a survey around the challenges faced from the Cost of Living Crisis


The purpose of this survey is to capture what organisations have identified as priority problems that need addressing for UK consumer customers and team members, what they have done, what impact this action has had and what is planned next. The output is to be used to provide a cross sector view of the Cost of Living Crisis and how organisations are supporting their customers and colleagues to provide customer service practitioners with an understanding of how their perspective of the Cost of Living Crisis and actions to combat it compares with the wider market.


The output will be in the form of a report that will be published on the Collaboration Network website, on and will be made freely available.


To participate please contact


Promote your involvement on Social Media

The Collaboration Network is encouraging all organisations and individuals to use social media to showcase how they are embracing Vulnerability Week. Use #VulnerabilityWeekUK2024 and tag @CollaborationNetwork on LinkedIn in your posts to highlight your activities, showcase your partnerships with support networks and share customer insight stories.


Practical Activities to help drive awareness

Share your vulnerable customer insights with colleagues

utilising your internal communication channels, such as blogs, newsletters and intranet pages, share stories of your interactions with vulnerable customers. This could include customer feedback, product testing insights or customer case studies. Highlighting the situation the customer was in and how the business was able to support them showcases the range of support offered.

Top Tips…

  • Think about how to engage all areas of the business, e.g. get your tech team involved by sharing feedback from a partially sighted customer using your app.

  • Pick a range of customer vulnerabilities and scenarios to showcase the wide range of support offered.

  • Provide an opportunity for colleagues across the business to listen to calls with vulnerable customers to understand the barriers they are facing and how they can be supported.

  • Create a safe space for colleagues to feedback on the stories and examples you are sharing – their insights could be invaluable in helping develop the proposition further.


Highlight your partnerships with support networks and third party specialists

  • Most organisations have a range of organisations who support their customers, such as Citizens Advice, Carers UK, Alzheimer’s UK and many more. This week, pick 5 of these organisations and use your internal communication channels, such as blogs, newsletters and intranet pages, to showcase the support they offer to customers. This is a good opportunity to remind colleagues of the variety of organisations you partner with to support customers and how they can find out more information on who is the most appropriate organisation to signpost a customer to.

  • Mix it up - You could do one as a Q&A with frontline colleagues who signpost customers, another as a case study to show how they support your customers, one as an interview with someone from the support organisation, another written as FAQ’s and one as a short list.

  • Pick partnerships which colleagues may be less familiar with but are important – perhaps you have a newly formed relationship with an organisation you want to shine a light on, or one which often gets picked up by your Quality Assurance team as a missed signposting opportunity.


Encourage colleagues to take volunteering days

  • Some organisations give colleagues a couple of days per year to volunteer. Whilst it may not be practical for all colleagues to take their volunteering during Vulnerability Week, use this as an opportunity to remind colleagues that this is available and the benefits of volunteering.          

  • Share stories from colleagues who have taken Volunteer Days recently.

  • If you have an annual charity partner share information to remind colleagues how they can support them.


Live off Universal Credit for a Week

  • Trying to understand someone else’s circumstances can be a challenge. By living off the average Universal Credit allowance for a week you will better be able to understand the challenges which people living off benefits and potentially in financial difficulty may be facing.

  • If you live with your partner, one or both of you are over 25 and you have no children, you will get on average £617.60 per month for your household. This assumes you are not entitled to other benefits such as childcare costs. On average, this would mean a household of two adults has £296.45 per week to live off. This covers accommodation, bills, food and any social costs. For a week, try covering all of your expenses with just £296.45 and see where you have to cut back. At the end of the week, colleagues who have taken part can share what they had to cut back on through blogs, team huddles and executive meetings.

  • Take a packed lunch, drinks and snacks to work instead of eating in the canteen.

  • Socialise with your friends and family in the park with food and drink from home instead of going out to a restaurant.

  • Give up going to the gym for a week and exercise outside.

  • Share a lift with friends and colleagues to split the cost of petrol.

  • Try walking to work or taking public transport instead of driving.


Reduce your water consumption

  • High levels of water consumption can be expensive if you are on a water meter. This week, try to lower your water consumption to save money. This will also have a positive impact on the environment.

  • Swap your bath for a shower. According to Ofwat a five-minute shower uses about 40 litres of water. This is about half the volume of a standard bath

  • Turn off the tap whilst brushing your teeth

  • Only put the dishwasher on when it is full

  • Don’t use a sprinkler or hosepipe in the garden – get a watering can instead!


Save on your energy bills by reducing consumption

  • Energy bills have come down since their peak 18 months ago, but they remain high and often people can struggle to afford them. Energy usage is easy to track with a smart meter so this week try to half you energy consumption. If you don’t have a smart meter, you can still try to reduce your consumption.

  • Only use the washing machine once you have a full load and hang your clothes outside to dry instead of using the tumble dryer

  • Take shorter showers

  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room

  • Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need

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