Oxford Metro Bank store colleagues have been trained to offer a Safe Space to domestic abuse victims, many of whom are also victims of economic abuse by their partners.
Safe Spaces are part of the UK Says No More campaign, and the global awareness week is from 05 to 12 March. No More Week calls for the end of domestic and sexual abuse, which impacts nearly two million people every year in the UK.
“UK Says No More” is working with several high-street locations, including Metro Bank, to provide Safe Spaces – a vital, private space for people experiencing domestic abuse to be able to access support safely without being monitored.
Since November 2022, Metro Bank has run a successful pilot rolling out Safe Spaces across several stores.
From Wednesday, 01 March, 48 Metro Bank stores – including Oxford – now offer the Safe Spaces scheme. This will offer anyone experiencing or at risk of domestic abuse an opportunity to safely call a helpline, support service or loved one.
Metro Bank has a network of 76 stores nationally. Choosing the stores to participate in the physical Safe Space initiative required careful consideration to ensure victims would be protected.
With Metro Bank’s open and transparent approach to high-street banking, some stores are fully exposed to public view, with large glass forefronts. Although all stores support the campaign, certain Metro Bank stores would not have been able to offer a truly safe and confidential space for victims.
“As a community bank, we want to be able to support anyone locally who wishes to use our private Safe Space to help them plan the next stages of their new life,” commented Oxford Metro Bank Store Manager Richard Harvey.
“The topic of domestic abuse has been high on our agenda over the last two years as we have worked to increase awareness through events and initiatives,” explains Judith Lowe, Chair of Metro Bank’s Women on Work inclusion network.
“As a community bank, our store teams already have well-established connections with local domestic abuse charities. As our stores are open seven days a week, evenings and 362 days a year, we can offer extended access on the high street for those needing a safe space, and we didn’t hesitate to join the UK Says No More campaign.”
Patrick Ryan, Chief Executive of Hestia, said: “For those experiencing domestic abuse, finding a safe space can be a lifeline. We have heard countless stories from survivors who were unable to even make a phone call without being monitored. Popping into a local high street bank may be the only time when they’re not watched.
“We’re pleased to be working with Metro Bank to widen our support network for those who need us now more than ever. We are proud to now be offering over 7,000 Safe Spaces across the UK, and we hope that many more businesses will follow Metro Bank’s lead and support this scheme.”
Anyone wanting to find the nearest Safe Space to their home should visit https://uksaysnomore.org/safespaces.
Metro Bank’s store can be found at 4–5 Queen Street, Oxford, OX1 1EJ. The store is open Mondays to Saturdays from 8.30am to 6pm, and Sundays between 11.00am and 5.00pm.