Local people experiencing domestic abuse can now access a Safe Space in the HSBC branch in Pontypool, Torfaen where they can seek specialist support and advice.
Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds visited the Pontypool branch to learn about the Safe Spaces initiative being rolled out across the borough.
One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes. Domestic abuse makes up 18% of all reported crime in Gwent – with 8,679 cases reported in the height of the pandemic between April 2020 to March 2021.
To help support victims and as part of HSBC UK’s commitment to supporting the most vulnerable in society, HSBC UK has created a Safe Space in every one of its Welsh branches including Cwmbran and Pontypool.
Launched by the domestic abuse charity Hestia and its UK SAYS NO MORE campaign, the Safe Spaces scheme is supported by funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The initiative, which was initially launched in pharmacies, aims to increase the availability of specialist support for victims of domestic abuse and provides a space for local people to phone a helpline, contact a support service or talk to a friend or family member.
HSBC UK is the largest High St bank to offer the service which was originally piloted last year in Southampton. Specialist training on Safe Spaces has been delivered to over 4,000 employees across all HSBC UK’s branches.
Individuals are referred by charity representatives and can use the address of the charity to open the account. HSBC UK has so far opened accounts for around 100 men and women referred to us by domestic abuse charities.
Andrew Ferns, Local Director for Pontypool and the wider Newport area at HSBC UK said: “HSBC UK Pontypool is proud to play a significant role in breaking the silence around domestic abuse. By providing a Safe Space in the heart of our local community we can reach victims and ensure they get the specialist help and advice they need.”
Torfaen MP, Nick Thomas-Symonds said: ‘I would like to thank HSBC for the invitation to visit their Pontypool branch to learn of the vital service they are providing to people experiencing domestic abuse.
The Safe Space initiative will offer lifesaving support to people across Torfaen, and I pay tribute to both Hestia and HSBC for the work done to establish this for the benefit of our community’
The introduction of Safe Spaces complements HSBC UK’s support for customers experiencing abuse. HSBC UK 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. The bank adheres to the UK Finance financial abuse code of practise and supports customers to:
- Open an account with a sort code that is non-traceable to a geographic location
- Separate joint accounts and remove additional cardholders to prevent any further abuse
- Reduce their ATM limit and put an ‘auto-decline for credit’ marker on their account if they are currently in an abusive situation
- Appoint a trusted representative to deal with the finances on their behalf if they are not in the right frame of mind
- Reset PIN and security details and change the address and method of communications
- Report concerns to the Office of the Public Guardian where a Power of Attorney is the alleged abuser