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Dudley South’s MP has said a bank’s new safe space programme could make the difference between life and death for local people suffering domestic abuse and coercive control.
Mike Wood visited TSB’s Merry Hill branch to hear about the provisions in place, and training given to staff, as part of the Safe Space scheme.
As part of a nationwide programme that will see victims of domestic abuse have access to Safe Spaces in 290 TSB branches across the UK, TSB Merry Hill has launched its own Safe Space for those who might need to seek specialist support and advice.
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.
As the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Home Secretary, Mike Wood has been working with Government Ministers as they introduce new laws to tackle domestic abuse, stalking and coercive control – including the landmark Domestic Abuse Act which passed this year.
Following his visit to the branch, the MP said:
“It was a privilege to help take the Domestic Abuse Act through Parliament as a member of the Bill Committee, but heartbreaking to hear the experiences of so many women and men who suffered physical, mental and emotional abuse at the hands of a partner.
“It can be incredibly intimidating for victims of domestic abuse to reach out and ask for help. It makes a massive difference that people who needs help can find a Safe Space at TSB Merry Hill as part of a normal visit to the bank without drawing any unwanted attention.”
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.
It can be incredibly intimidating for victims of domestic abuse to reach out and ask for help. It makes a massive difference that people who needs help can find a Safe Space at TSB Merry Hill as part of a normal visit to the bank without drawing any unwanted attention.