News – Nationwide will offer safe spaces for people experiencing domestic abuse

By Vicky Shaw

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People will be able to use a private room and can access a phone to discreetly call for support, Nationwide Building Society said. Britain’s biggest building society has said it will offer safe spaces to people experiencing domestic abuse. Nationwide Building Society said it will offer safe spaces to people experiencing domestic abuse at more than 400 branches across the UK.

The society pledged last year that everywhere it has a branch, it will still be there until at least 2026. Safe spaces, launched by domestic abuse charity Hestia as part of the UK Says No More campaign, are designated locations which anyone experiencing domestic abuse can use.

Upon asking a member of staff to use their safe space, people will be able to use a private room to help them deal with the issue. They can have access to a phone if they need one, and the chance to discreetly contact family, friends or specialist support.

Nationwide said branch staff have received specialised training to help spot signs of domestic abuse and offer support to those affected, including helping them manage their finances, providing access to a specialist support team and other resources.

Mandy Beech, director of retail services at Nationwide, said: “We hope that by rolling out safe spaces across over 400 of our branches and training all our branch colleagues, we are helping make a difference by giving people somewhere to go and access support safely. Patrick Ryan, chief executive of Hestia, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Nationwide, whose support will make a real difference for victims across the UK.

Staff across more than 600 branches have participated in our domestic abuse awareness training. Having a safe route to access support is a lifeline for victims of domestic abuse. That’s why we launched safe spaces in everyday places like banks and pharmacies – to provide a safe way to access specialist help and advice, or to call a loved one.”

HSBC UK, which already operates safe spaces, recently reported that the bank has seen an increase in their use during the winter months. The bank joined Hestia’s safe spaces scheme in April 2022, and said that since then more than 200 people have used a HSBC UK safe space. HSBC UK has said it experiences an average of two customer calls per day mentioning domestic or financial abuse. TSB joined the scheme in May 2021 and it also offers an emergency flee fund, making a payment of between £50 to £500, depending on individual needs, to support domestic abuse survivors.

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