Latest News Hestia works with businesses to provide potentially lifesaving support to victims Domestic abuse charity works with businesses to provide potentially lifesaving support to victims Royal Mail will offer free redirection of post for victims HSBC UK will open basic bank accounts through the No Fixed address service Uber will cover the cost of trips for victims to travel to domestic abuse refuges Tuesday 27 July 2021: Today, the crisis charity Hestia announces a new initiative with HSBC UK, and current partners Royal Mail and Uber to provide potentially lifesaving support to victims of domestic abuse in 27 London refuges. The ‘Fresh Start Toolkit’ initiative will help over 3,000 women and children gain financial independence and the security to flee domestic abuse safely and save lives. The support includes offering victims access to rides with the payments covered by Uber to a Hestia refuge in London. Once in safe accommodation, victims can take control of their finances and open a basic bank account through HSBC UK’s No Fixed Address service. They will also be able to ensure post is redirected from their previous address to their new accommodation, free of charge and in confidence with Royal Mail. Hestia, which is one of the largest domestic abuse refuge providers in London, witnessed the devastating impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on victims isolated at home with abuse escalating and support networks cut off overnight. During the most recent lockdown there was a 30 percent increase in demand for support from victims. There has also been a 10 percent increase in downloads of Hestia’s free domestic abuse smartphone app, Bright Sky, compared to the first lockdown. Now restrictions have been lifted, the charity is warning that demand could rise further as victims reach out for help after being isolated at home for so long. Nahar Choudhury, Regional Director of Operations at Hestia said: “Leaving an abusive relationship is not an easy or straightforward process. There are many barriers that mean victims stay with their abuser in life-threatening situations, with fear of physical abuse and financial abuse while being unable to reach safe accommodation. The pandemic has meant victims have been in isolation for too long and with restrictions lifted, the ‘Fresh Start’ initiative with Royal Mail, HSBC UK and Uber will address these practical hurdles by removing the added pressures of fleeing abuse and allow women and children to recover from their trauma. When businesses come together, we know it can save lives." Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner said: “I am delighted to see these businesses coming together as part of the Fresh Start Toolkit which will help thousands of domestic abuse victims and their children. These are very practical offers of help from HSBC UK, Royal Mail and Uber could make all the difference to someone forced to flee from an abusive partner. Victims often leave in a state of turmoil at short notice with little time to plan and these steps will undoubtedly help survivors to start rebuilding their lives.” Frances Fay, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Community Investment at Royal Mail said: “At the heart of our organisation is a commitment that we will act as a responsible corporate citizen. As such, playing a role in protecting our communities and vulnerable customers is naturally part of what we do. We recently launched our ‘Online Safe Spaces’ portal, which helps victims of domestic abuse access vital support if they need it online. We hope that the ‘Fresh Start’ initiative will enable victims to feel confident enough to seek help.” Maxine Pritchard, Head of Financial Inclusion and Vulnerability at HSBC UK said: “HSBC UK is committed to providing support to the most vulnerable in society, including those experiencing abuse. A bank account is crucial to financial independence and it’s a tragedy that those fleeing abusive situations can face difficulty opening one. We’ve worked closely with Hestia, Shelter and other charities to provide basic bank accounts to over 1,100 vulnerable people through our No Fixed Address service. We’re pleased we can also offer this service to Hestia clients across London as part of the Fresh Start Toolkit” Ash Kebriti, Uber General Manager, UK said: “At Uber, we are proud to play our role in this great initiative with Hestia. By working with HSBC UK and Royal Mail, we are covering the cost of rides as part of the Fresh Start Toolkit to help survivors of domestic abuse when they need it the most. This is just the next step in our long-standing partnership with Hestia, who do so much for those in need.” -END- About Royal Mail plc Royal Mail plc is the parent company of Royal Mail Group Limited, the leading provider of postal and delivery services in the UK and the UK’s designated universal postal service provider. UK Parcels, International and Letters (“UKPIL”) comprises the company’s UK and international parcels and letters delivery businesses operating under the “Royal Mail” and “Parcelforce Worldwide” brands. Through the Royal Mail Core Network, the company delivers a one-price-goes-anywhere service on a range of parcels and letters products. Royal Mail has the capability to deliver to around 31 million addresses in the UK, six days a week (excluding UK public holidays). Parcelforce Worldwide operates a separate UK network which collects and delivers express parcels. Royal Mail also owns General Logistics Systems (GLS) which operates one of the largest ground-based, deferred parcel delivery networks in Europe. About HSBC UK HSBC UK serves around 14.5 million customers across the UK, supported by 32,000 colleagues. HSBC UK offers a complete range of retail banking and wealth management to personal and private banking customers, as well as commercial banking for small to medium businesses and large corporates. About Uber Uber’s mission is to create opportunity through movement. We started in 2010 to solve a simple problem: how do you get access to a ride at the touch of a button? More than 10 billion trips later, we're building products to get people closer to where they want to be. By changing how people, food, and things move through cities, Uber is a platform that opens up the world to new possibilities.