HSBC offers Safe Spaces for domestic abuse victims in every branch

People experiencing domestic abuse can now walk into any of HSBC UK’s branches and access a Safe Space where they can seek specialist support and advice.

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.

One in four women and one in six men1 will experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes. To help support victims and as part of HSBC UK’s commitment to supporting the most vulnerable in society, HSBC UK has signed up to the Safe Spaces initiative.

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 branches.

Jerry2 in his sixties was the first person to use the Safe Space at an HSBC UK branch having heard about the pilot on the radio. Jerry had relocated to Southampton but was officially homeless having fled an abusive relationship.

He said:

“I came into your branch on Tuesday in some what of a panic after leaving a violent relationship which I had endured for nearly three years. I only wish that you had set up your Safe Space a while ago.

“Learning about your initiative seemed to be some sort of fate. Thank you for your attention, efficiency and kindness.”

Jackie Uhi, Head of Branch Network at HSBC UK said:

“HSBC UK is proud to play a significant role in breaking the silence around domestic abuse. By providing a Safe Space in each of our branches, located at the heart of local communities, HSBC UK will help Hestia reach victims of domestic abuse, ensuring they get the specialist help and advice they need.”

Jerry was also able to open a bank account through HSBC UK’s No Fixed Address scheme which supports people experiencing housing issues. Available in 184  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.

Maxine Pritchard, Head of Financial Inclusion and Vulnerability at HSBC UK said:

“A significant number of people experiencing homelessness in the UK have also experienced abuse. Like Jerry, many victims flee abusive situations with just the clothes on their back and may not have the ID documents required to set up a bank account. Our No Fixed Address service was designed to ensure anyone experiencing homelessness is not excluded from banking.”

Patrick Ryan, Chief Executive of Hestia said:

"We want to ensure that anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse has access to specialist help and advice and that they have the opportunity to build a life beyond the crisis. Jerry’s story highlights the importance of providing a Safe Space to victims of abuse and it helped him on his own survival journey and provided the support that he needed.”

“By working with HSBC UK it allows us to widen our support network for victims to over 6,000 Safe Spaces. Through the generous support of the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery we are pleased to be able to provide communities with Safe Spaces. We hope many more businesses will follow HSBC UK’s lead and support this scheme.”

Minister for Safeguarding, Rachel Maclean, said:

“It is essential that victims and survivors of domestic abuse are able to access support and advice throughout our community.

“HSBC UK’s commitment through the Safe Spaces initiative aligns with the Government’s Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan which aims to achieve a stronger and more effective system across society to tackle these awful crimes.

“The fact that victims and survivors will be able to access a safe space at their local HSBC UK branch to safely call a helpline, support service or loved one will prove invaluable in helping to achieve this goal.”

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 – HSBC UK was the first bank to do this

  • 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 – HSBC UK is the only bank to do the latter

  • 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

For more information on how HSBC UK is supporting victims of domestic and financial abuse, please visit:

1Data from Office of National Statistics

2 Not his real name