Charity Hestia’s ‘UK SAYS NO MORE’ campaign is to dramatically expand its Safe Spaces scheme for victims of domestic abuse across the UK in response to rising levels of abuse during the pandemic.
The Safe Spaces scheme offers access points through high street partners, where victims can discreetly use consultation rooms to access specialist domestic abuse services.
Thanks to an award of £655,000 raised by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, more than 200,000 victims of domestic abuse will be helped. The funding has been awarded as part of the Postcode Recovery Fund, designed to help communities recover from problems exacerbated by the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on victims of domestic abuse, with the number of cases escalating and support networks cut off overnight. Since lockdown on November 5, 2020, Hestia has seen a 30 per cent increase in demand for support.
Currently, people living with domestic abuse can access over 5,300 Safe Spaces in pharmacies nationwide as well as accessing Online Safe Spaces on many websites. The new funding will allow Safe Spaces to extend to other high street businesses and online to build a long-lasting infrastructure of support for victims of domestic abuse.
To support the expansion of the Safe Spaces project, 32,000 staff in participating organisations will be trained in domestic abuse responses so victims can access the help they need.
Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said:
“Hestia’s Safe Spaces initiative is a great example of a charity that is addressing the demand which has escalated during the pandemic. Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the charity received the funds to create additional safe spaces for those needing help. Thanks to this funding, more support will be available in our communities and on our high streets, bringing benefits well beyond the pandemic to those who need a safe space.”
Sue Harper, Head of Domestic Abuse Prevention at Hestia, said:
“Right now, there are victims of domestic abuse that don’t know where to go or are trapped at home with their abuser. Safe Spaces was born in the midst of lockdown as a bridge for victims to specialist support, but it has the potential to support thousands more victims to safety in the future. With the generous support of the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we can now expand this vital initiative, enabling communities to play a critical role in tackling domestic abuse.”
A survivor of domestic abuse who used a Safe Space told Hestia:
“Safe Spaces has saved my life. I had been experiencing coercive control for 5 years of a 10-year relationship. During the lockdown, I was shielding, and the abuse escalated to aggression and violence, making me fear for my life.
“When I saw that independent pharmacies were offering Safe Spaces, I scrolled through the list with my heart in my mouth and found that my local village pharmacy was listed. Over the weeks I used the Safe Space, I developed a plan to get the abuser out of my home. I am now beginning to feel safe in my home again, but without this support, things could have been very different and far, far worse.”