HSBC recently announced it has made every one of its branches a Safe Space for domestic abuse victims.
People experiencing domestic abuse – including financial abuse – can now seek help by walking into any of HSBC’s UK branches to access a Safe Space where they can get specialist support and advice.
The Safe Spaces scheme was launched by the domestic abuse charity Hestia and its SAY NO MORE campaign and is supported by funding raised by the People’s Postcode Lottery.
Jackie Uhi, Head of Branch Network at HSBC UK said: “HSBC UK is proud to play a significant role in breaking the silence around domestic abuse.
“By providing a Safe Space in each of our branches, located at the heart of local communities, HSBC UK will help Hestia reach victims of domestic abuse, ensuring they get the specialist help and advice they need.”
This initiative plans to increase the availability of support for victims of domestic abuse by offering a space to call a helpline, contact a support service or speak to friends and family members.
According to the Know Economic Abuse 2020 report by The Co-operative Bank and Refuge – a charity for women and domestic abuse victims – 8.7 million people reported experiencing economic abuse that year.
Of those people, 1.6 million saw this begin as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nearly two out of five UK adults – approximately 20 million people – have experienced economically abusive behaviour in a current or former relationship, though not many recognise their situations as abuse.
HSBC spokesperson Steve Gracey said: “The bank sees an average of two customer calls every day mentioning domestic or financial abuse. About a third of these are people looking to separate their joint finances.
“Safe Spaces complements the existing support we offer customers such as the ‘No Fixed Address’ service that helps people experiencing homelessness open accounts, including those who have been abused, a non-geographical sort code to help conceal victims locations, and the opportunity to separate joint accounts if abuse is taking place.”
Demand on domestic abuse helplines increased in the year ending March 2021 – including a 22% increase in people supported by the National Domestic Abuse Helpline in England – according to the Office for National Statistics census 2021.
Specialist training on Safe Spaces has been given to 4,000 HSBC staff across UK branches.
Minister for Safeguarding, Rachel Maclean, said: “It is essential that victims and survivors of domestic abuse are able to access support and advice throughout our community.
“HSBC UK’s commitment through the Safe Spaces initiative aligns with the Government’s Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan which aims to achieve a stronger and more effective system across society to tackle these awful crimes.
“The fact that victims and survivors will be able to access a safe space at their local HSBC UK branch to safely call a helpline, support service or loved one will prove invaluable in helping to achieve this goal.”
For more information on HSBC’s initiative, click here.
You can call their helpline on 03457 404 404 to get help with financial abuse.