17 Jan 2024

Nationwide - UK's biggest branch network - rolls out over 400 Safe Spaces for domestic abuse victims

  • Britain’s biggest building society joins Safe Spaces initiative.
  • Poll shows impact of abuse, with 24% having experienced it[1] ; over 1 in 4 suffered financial abuse.
  • Nationwide values face-to-face service and promises to keep all branches open until at least 2026.

Nationwide – the largest branch network of any UK banking brand - will offer safe spaces to people experiencing domestic abuse across more than 400 branches across the UK. Nationwide last year promised that everywhere it has a branch, it will still be there until at least 2026 – ensuring face-to-face services are protected.

A recent poll by Nationwide[2] shows almost half (48%) the population have experienced, or know someone who has experienced domestic abuse[3], with almost one in four (24%) having been a victim themselves1.

Safe Spaces, launched by domestic abuse charity Hestia as part of the UK SAYS NO MORE campaign, are designated locations in the UK which anyone experiencing domestic abuse can use. Upon asking a member of staff to use their Safe Space, individuals will be able to use a private room to help them deal with the issue – access to a phone if they need one, and the chance to discreetly contact family, friends or specialist support.

According to the UK-wide poll of 2,000 people, more than a quarter (26%) of people who have experienced or know someone who has experienced domestic violence say financial abuse was the root cause of the abuse. The way financial abuse manifested itself varied, including:

  • More than half (53%) said access to their/someone they know money was being controlled.
  • Over a third (36%) said spending was scrutinised and funds were hidden from them/someone they know.
  • Around one third (34%) have been pressured into co-signing a loan and/or forced to sign over a power of attorney or know someone who has experienced this, giving their abuser total financial control over their finances.

Encouragingly, nearly half (47%) of the population would willingly[4] speak to a dedicated member of staff in a branch on the high street about any domestic abuse issues. All Nationwide branch colleagues 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 said: “We’re proud to actively take a stand against domestic abuse and protect and support not only our own customers, but anyone within our communities who may be impacted. 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. Branches are as vital today as they have always been as they provide a trusted place to talk to someone face to face.”

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. By working together, we can ensure that every survivor of domestic abuse has a place to turn to.”

Notes to editors

[1] ‘I have experienced domestic violence and I know someone else who has’ and ‘I have experienced domestic violence but do not know someone else who has’ answers combined.

[2] Research conducted by Censuswide on a poll of 2,000 nationally representative respondents in the UK (aged 16+).

[3] ‘I have experienced domestic violence and I know someone else who has’, ‘I have experienced domestic violence but do not know someone else who has’ and 'I haven't experienced domestic violence but I know someone who has answers combined.

[4] ‘Very willingly’ and ‘Somewhat willingly’ answers combined.

About Hestia and Safe Spaces

For over 50 years, Hestia has provided support and hope every step of the way to recovery. Today, millions of people are experiencing domestic abuse, modern slavery and challenges with their mental health. Hestia believes no-one should suffer alone. Together, we can make sure people find a life beyond crisis. We deliver services across London and the surrounding regions, as well as campaign and advocate nationally on the issues that affect the people we work with.

Hestia is the home of domestic abuse and sexual violence campaign UK SAYS NO MORE and developed the Bright Sky domestic abuse app in partnership with Vodafone. UK SAYS NO MORE seeks to unite and strengthen a diverse community of members and organisations nationwide to actively take a stand against domestic abuse and sexual violence under one powerful, visual symbol.

The Safe Spaces programme was developed as an initiative of the UK SAYS NO MORE campaign and Hestia in response to the challenges faced by people experiencing domestic abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown and their inability to access specialist support services. It was first launched in 2020 and is now available in over 6,000 pharmacies, banks and building societies across the UK.