We’re helping people stay safe from abuse

06 Apr 2021
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We're helping people stay safe from abuse with Safe Spaces

(Content warning: this article contains non-graphic references to domestic abuse)

SGN has partnered with crisis charity Hestia, their ‘UK Says No More’ campaign, and Royal Mail Group to provide Online Safe Spaces for victims of domestic abuse to access specialist support and information through our website.

Online Safe Spaces is a portal that you can access via the logo in the footer of our website. By clicking on the Safe Spaces portal, you will access the Online Safe Space, which holds a directory of national domestic abuse helplines, a directory of local specialist domestic abuse services, and an assessment questionnaire. It also leaves no trace in the user’s browser history.

The portal is accessible in a variety of languages and has a quick exit button, taking the user back to the original page they were on, thereby providing a degree of safety to the user.

It comes at a crucial time for keeping people safe during the pandemic. Recent figures show that:

  • One in five offences recorded by police during and immediately after the first national lockdown in England and Wales involved domestic abuse.
  • In the year ending March 2020, 2.3m adults are estimated to have experienced domestic abuse over twelve months.
  • In Scotland, there were 30,718 charges reported in 2019-20 related to domestic abuse. It’s the highest since 2015-16, and is 5.7% higher than the year before.

Around 20 organisations have signed up including eBay, Royal Mail Group including the Post Office and Parcelforce, Ministry of Defence, and Thames Water. It’s estimated that in the last four months of 2020, there were nearly 4,000 visits to Online Safe Spaces every single day.

Claire Barnett, Executive Director of UN Women UK, said: “Covid-19 has led to increases in violence against women that threaten to roll back achievements in gender equality by decades. UN Women has been working with local partners to create safer public spaces for the past ten years, including through our project Safe Spaces Now. I am delighted to see the Online Safe Space initiative innovating by using existing platforms and partners to share critical information on women’s services.”

Maureen McIntosh, our Head of Customer Experience, added: “We regularly provide additional support and help to our customers who are living in vulnerable circumstances, and I’m pleased we’re going even further now by providing important information to also help people who are experiencing abuse. Sometimes people don’t know where to turn to for help, in what can be really difficult or dangerous situations, and I hope we can help people further and they are able to find the extra safety and security they need.”

Lyndsey Dearlove, Head of Domestic Abuse Prevention at Hestia said: “Businesses have a unique role to play in breaking the silence around domestic abuse and ensuring victims can access the help and support they need. Lockdown restrictions due to Covid-19 have provided an opportunity for businesses to step up their response to domestic abuse for their staff and customers through digital platforms. With the launch of Online Safe Spaces, we are delighted to work with SGN to provide their first online safe space to provide a vital lifeline to victims of domestic abuse.”

We’re proud to be the first energy network to launch the portal on our website. Safety is at the heart of everything we do. We’re committed to doing all we can to keep our people and the communities we work in safe in as many ways as possible.


About Hestia and UK SAYS NO MORE

Hestia is one of the largest providers of domestic abuse refuges in London and the South East and is the main organisation supporting victims of modern slavery in the capital. It 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. This year, it celebrates 50 years of providing support to those in crisis by providing safehouses, refuge accommodation and support.

Safe Spaces was developed as an initiative of the UK SAYS NO MORE campaign in response to the challenges faced by victims of domestic abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown and their inability to access specialist support services. It was first launched in partnership with Boots and is now available in over 5,000 pharmacies across the UK, including major brands and local independent pharmacists.