THE Redditch branch of the TSB has become one of just four in the UK to offer a safe haven for victims of domestic abuse.
The initiative, which comes at a time when incidents of domestic abuse are on the rise, is being run with the charity Hestia.
Called ‘Safe Spaces’ the aim is to increase the availability of specialist support for victims of domestic abuse and provide a space for local people to phone a helpline, contact a support service or talk to a friend or family member.
The pilot project, which is only being run at the bank’s branches in Tenbury Wells, Stourport, Worcester and Redditch, could be rolled out nationwide if successful.
Figures from Hestia show a near 40 per cent increase in people trying to access specialist support during the first lockdown and the charity anticipates similar demand now.
The Redditch TSB pilot will run for 12 weeks – covering the crucial Christmas period – and vulnerable people needing help and advice will be able to find physical ‘Safe Spaces’ within the bank’s branch on Unicorn Hill.
Specialist training has been delivered to TSB staff so they can advise and assist on issues from financial coercion, human trafficking and other criminal activity.
Victims can also use a private room to make telephone calls and get a referral to West Mercia Police, with whom TSB is also partnered.
Domestic Abuse lead detective Sergeant Sharon Wallace-Rathmell of West Mercia Police, said: “We are really pleased that TSB has chosen to join the Safe Space scheme and support our work.
“Unfortunately, victims of domestic abuse can experience an average of 50 assaults before seeking help and if these Safe Spaces can offer the support they need then we will be able to help more people.”
Lyndsey Dearlove, of Hestia, added: “Businesses have a unique role to play in breaking the silence around domestic abuse and ensuring victims can access the help they need.
“We recognise banks allow victims the opportunity to enter discreetly and become a place of safety within the local community.
“By creating this safe space in TSB, we hope many will be able to safely access support whilst following Government guidelines.”
n From April to September of this year, there were 9,060 domestic abuse crimes within West Mercia, of which 299 were coercive control offences.