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Terry – Opening a bank account has finally made me feel ‘normal’ again

Terry contacted our helpline from prison seeking help to open a bank account prior to his release.

He stated that he had initially applied to NatWest Bank for a current account approximately one year ago. NatWest had refused his application as their qualifying criteria stated that individuals needed to be within 6 months of release from prison before an account could be opened. He had applied again in August 2020 but to date had heard nothing.

Terry told the helpline advisor that he was due to be released from prison just before Christmas and, without a bank account he would not have access to any money during the Christmas holidays. With Covid infection rates increasing, and parts of the country likely to go into some form of lockdown, he was becoming increasingly anxious and starting to think that remaining in prison was preferable to release. Although Terry had tried on numerous occasions to get information and advice from the prison, the Covid pandemic meant that there was very little opportunity for him to be out of his cell and, the limited numbers of staff available meant that his case was not considered urgent.

Our helpline advisor explained that up until 2014, Unlock had ran a 9-year project, working with prisons and the banking industry, to better enable those in prison to open a bank account. At that time, the prison Terry was in had a banking arrangement in place with HSBC and our advisor suggested that Terry ask his personal officer or a member of the resettlement team for details of how to apply for an account with them. Alternatively, Terry could consider opening an account with a local Credit Union and we provided him with details of one closest to the prison.

Several weeks later, Terry got back in touch with the helpline to say:

“Thanks to you guys I’ve got a new bank account and I can now start to look forward to being home for Christmas.”


Notes about this case study

  1. Terry was supported by Unlock’s helpline.
  2. We have practical guidance on opening a basic bank account before release.
  3. Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

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