Banks set up 'safe spaces' for victims of domestic abuse seeking to escape violent partners

·2-min read
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Victims of domestic violence are for the first time to be offered “safe spaces” in banks where they can escape their abusive partner and call for help.

TSB has become the first high street bank to offer the safe spaces at 290 of its branches nationwide enabling victims to have a secure location where they can phone a helpline, contact a support service or privately talk to a friend or family member.

The bank joins 5,300 pharmacies that are part of the safe space initiative organised by the domestic abuse charity Hestia.

It is running alongside a Government scheme where victims of domestic violence get a code word they can use in pharmacies to escape their abuse

All staff at high street chemists are being trained to respond by taking the victim to a safe place in the store where they can call police or the national domestic abuse helpline.

The safe spaces scheme follows a 30 per cent rise in demand to Hestia for support from victims. There has also been a 10 percent increase in downloads of Hestia’s free domestic abuse smartphone app, Bright Sky, compared to the first lockdown.

As lockdown restrictions start to ease, the charity is warning that demand could rise further as victims reach out for help after being isolated at home for so long.

All TSB branch colleagues have received specialist training to increase their confidence in responding to disclosures of domestic abuse and will provide victims with access to the Safe Space in their branch.

Victims can use a private room to make telephone calls, speak to a trained staff member and contact the local police force if necessary. The support is available to both TSB customers and members of the public and adheres to current health and safety regulations, ensuring people can still visit safely.

Sue Harper, Head of Domestic Abuse Prevention at Hestia said: “During the pandemic, self-isolation has given abusers a new method of control over victims making it very difficult for them to get the help they need. As restrictions ease, it’s vital that access to specialist domestic abuse support is readily accessible.

“Businesses have a unique role in breaking the silence around domestic abuse. By providing a Safe Space in their banks, TSB will help us reach many more victims of domestic abuse, ensuring they get the specialist help and advice they need. We hope many more businesses will follow their lead and support this scheme.”

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