Nationwide to offer safe spaces to people suffering domestic abuse

By Staff

Nationwide has announced plans to offer safe spaces to people experiencing domestic abuse.

The building society, which is headquartered in Swindon, said more than 400 branches across the UK will be involved in the scheme. Last year Nationwide committed to keeping all its branches open until 2026 at least.

Safe spaces, launched by domestic abuse charity Hestia as part of the UK Says No More campaign, are designated locations which can be used by anyone experiencing domestic abuse. Fellow lenders HSBC and TSB have already signed up.

People who need to use a safe space can ask a member of staff in branch and will be taken to a private room, with access to a phone so they can 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 recently reported it had seen an increase in 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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