Safe Spaces is a free national support service which offers a confidential, personal, and safe space for anyone who has been abused through their relationship with either the Church of England, The Church in Wales or The Catholic Church in England and Wales, regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation.
The service will now be provided through independent organisation First Light, which has extensive experience in supporting those who have experienced or are experiencing sexual abuse or domestic violence, including survivors and victims of church-related abuse.
First Light has been appointed by the Board of Trustees Of Safe Spaces England and Wales (SSEW) after a rigorous and highly competitive tender process.
Mick Thurley, Diocese of East Anglia Safeguarding Coordinator, welcomed the move, saying: “I am pleased that the Safe Spaces project will continue to flourish and build upon the firm foundations laid by Victim Support. I would like to encourage anyone who has been abused by someone within the Catholic Church to make contact with Safe Spaces, either directly or through the Diocese of East Anglia Safeguarding Office, so that they may receive free and personal help, support and advice from this independent and specialist victim support service.”
Bishop Paul Mason, Safeguarding Lead for the Catholic Church, Board Member of the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA) and a Trustee of SSEW said: “The impact of abuse can be complex and life-long. It is vital that victims have a source of support from an independent body which specialises in this area. We have complete confidence that First Light will deliver this service in the long term and will make a difference for those who need it. We would like to thank every survivor who has worked with us to help ensure a continuity of support and excellence of service.”
Lyn Gooding, Chief Executive of First Light said: “Our trained staff are ready to be there for any victim or survivor of church-related abuse. We know that Safe Spaces is needed, we are committed to the project for the long-term and we could not be more proud to take up this vital work.”
Service users can expect a seamless transition from interim providers FearLess (formerly Splitz Support Service) which followed a successful two-year pilot of the Safe Spaces project run by Victim Support. All current service users will be contacted individually to talk through relevant information, options and to answer any questions. They can expect continuity in accessing support.
Safe Spaces can be contacted by ringing 0300 303 1056 or at: www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk