Bishop of Doncaster’s column: ‘Financial abuse’ of a mum showed why we must help the vulnerable

Bishop of Doncaster, Peter Burrows.
Bishop of Doncaster, Peter Burrows.

‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers you did it to me.’

I recently attended a very moving presentation on Keeping Safe: How to help adults at risk of abuse. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and Doncaster Council’ s message is: “If you SEE something, SAY something. Remember, doing nothing is not an option.”

So who do we class as vulnerable adults? An adult at risk is someone who needs help for a number of reasons, such as disability, age or illness. It might be someone who isn’t able to take care of themselves, or unable to protect themselves against harm and exploitation.

Doncaster Council works with St Leger Homes, among other agencies, to prevent, identify and respond to allegations of abuse and neglect.

Their aim is to protect adults at risk and make sure they get the right support they need so they can make the most of their lives.

Abuse can be discriminatory, organisational, physical, sexual, financial, psychological or simple neglect, and can take place anywhere – in someone’s home, at a day centre, at a nursing or care home, at work or even in a public place. Victims can be anyone – partner, family member, carer, neighbour, or a patient or resident in a care home or nursing facility.

The video I watched gave some very graphic and shocking examples of abuse.

Joy’s son takes Joy’s pension to do her shopping. Joy isn’t given any money for herself nor can she choose what is bought. This is classed as financial abuse.

Margaret is disabled and needs help to live at home. Her carers threaten her that she will need to live in a residential home if she doesn’t make their jobs easier. This is psychological abuse.

They are just two examples of the day-to-day situations that some vulnerable adults are dealing with.

There are ways in which people can help protect themselves, such as keeping in touch with family and friends, and not allowing anyone to cut them off from other people.

But it is the responsibility of all of us.

Everyone has a right to be safe, respected and heard.

It’s our duty to ensure that this happens.