From today, victims of domestic abuse can access a Safe Space in 290 TSB branches across the UK to seek specialist support and advice, as TSB becomes the first bank to sign up to the scheme.
Launched by the domestic abuse charity Hestia and its UK SAYS NO MORE campaign, with support from People’s Postcode Lottery Recovery fund, the scheme will enable more victims to find help on their local high street especially as lockdown restrictions ease across the UK.
TSB’s commitment follows three pilots run in its Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire branches over the last six months as Hestia partnered with the Bank and local police forces to roll out the scheme.
Safe Spaces was initially developed during the pandemic in response to the rising numbers of domestic abuse victims trapped at home with their abusers. Expanding it to TSB branches will take the total to over 5,600 Safe Spaces nationwide.
Hestia has seen domestic abuse cases surge in the last year and during this latest lockdown there has been a 30 percent increase in demand for support to 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.”
Sara*, a survivor of domestic abuse, told Hestia: “Women or men who have been 'forced' to be indoors with an abusive partner or family member really need a 'safe haven' where they can retreat to collect their thoughts and get support. Sometimes getting out of that bubble of abuse, that you are in at home, helps you to realise that help is out there.
“An abuser wouldn't really think that their victim could access help at their local bank or pharmacy so being able to contact a domestic violence helpline in this way will be life changing for many."
The Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, said: “The last year has been extremely difficult for everyone but even more so for domestic abuse victims who have often been trapped in lockdown for months on end with perpetrators. Getting help has been nigh on impossible for many.
“Some of those survivors were offered a lifeline by the Safe Spaces scheme which meant that victims could access support through thousands of pharmacies all over the country. I am delighted to see that TSB has signed up to this scheme and will now offer victims support in their high street branches.
“Domestic abuse is everyone’s business and I urge more business to offer support and help to domestic abuse victims.”
Carol Anderson, Director of TSB’s Branch Network, said: “It’s clear during lockdown victims of domestic abuse have had fewer opportunities to seek help safely. For some, going into their local bank will be one of the few connections they have with the wider community and in partnership with Hestia we’ll be there to offer that support when they need it most.”