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HSBC offers ‘safe spaces’ for domestic abuse victims

Written by: Rebecca Goodman
Safe spaces for people experiencing domestic abuse are now available at 510 HSBC bank branches.

They are private and discrete areas where people can access specialist support and advice including being able to call a local helpline, contact a support service, or talk to a friend or family member.

The scheme, which was launched during the pandemic, is part of the charity Hestia’s ‘UK Says No More’ campaign.

These spaces were already available at locations across the country, including pharmacies and supermarkets such as Morrisons, Boots and Superdrug.

One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

HSBC says it is contacted by two customers every day on average mentioning domestic or financial abuse, and about a third of these are people looking to separate their joint finances.

Jerry (who has changed his name for this article), is in his sixties and homeless following an abusive relationship. He was the first person to use a safe space at HSBC.

He said: “I came into your branch on Tuesday in somewhat of a panic after leaving a violent relationship which I had endured for nearly three years. I only wish that you had set up your safe space a while ago.

“Learning about your initiative seemed to be some sort of fate. Thank you for your attention, efficiency and kindness.”

HSBC is the largest high-street bank to offer the service, which was piloted in Southampton last year. More than 4,000 HSBC staff have also been given specialist training to help those in need of a safe space.

Jackie Uhi, head of branch network at HSBC UK, said: “HSBC UK is proud to play a significant role in breaking the silence around domestic abuse. By providing a Safe Space in each of our branches, located at the heart of local communities, HSBC UK will help Hestia reach victims of domestic abuse, ensuring they get the specialist help and advice they need.”

To access a safe space, you will need to ask a member of staff in a participating location. They will show you to a private room. You can find your nearest safe space via the Hestia website.

Last year TSB became the first branch to offer safe spaces, at 290 branches. The safe space scheme has been supported by funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Patrick Ryan, chief executive of Hestia, said: “By working with HSBC UK it allows us to widen our support network for victims to over 6,000 Safe Spaces.

“Through the generous support of the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery we are pleased to be able to provide communities with Safe Spaces. We hope many more businesses will follow HSBC UK’s lead and support this scheme.”

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