From today, those at risk of or suffering from domestic abuse will be able to receive help from one of 18 Jobcentres and Jobs and Benefit Offices* across the UK.

Anyone who needs to will be able to use a Safe Space where they can contact specialist domestic abuse services for support and advice, or they can Ask for ANI and be supported to access an immediate police response.  

The pilot has been launched by the Home Office and Hestia’s UK SAYS NO MORE campaign, in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions.

Patrick Ryan, Chief Executive of Hestia said:

“Far too many people across the UK are experiencing domestic abuse, and yet sadly many still struggle to find safe ways to access support. As a specialist domestic abuse charity, Hestia is pleased to be expanding our Safe Spaces programme in partnership with Ask for ANI in Jobcentres. The more opportunities we can provide for victims to access vital specialist support in a safe way, the more lives that can be saved.”  

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“No woman or girl should ever have to feel unsafe in her home or community and I am determined to stamp out these appalling crimes.

The Ask for Ani scheme provides a lifeline for anyone suffering from domestic abuse and we will continue to expand the scheme so that more people can access it, including piloting this service in the first Jobcentres.”

The Safe Spaces programme was initially launched in 2020 as a response to the challenges faced by people experiencing domestic abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown and their inability to access specialist support services.

When someone asks to use a safe space, they are guided to a safe and confidential room where they can take some time to reflect, access information on specialist support services or call friends or family.  The scheme is now available in over 7,000 pharmacies and banks across the UK.

The Ask for ANI (‘Action Needed Immediately’) scheme operates alongside Safe Spaces in over 5,000 pharmacies across the UK. Anyone who is suffering from or fearful of domestic abuse can ask for ANI, and they will be guided to a safe and private space and offered support to call the police.

Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, said: 

“Domestic abuse is a despicable crime that leads to people’s closest relationships becoming a frightening existence of torment, pain, fear, and anxiety. It is completely unacceptable and as Home Secretary I will do everything in my power to stop it.” 

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride said:

“As safe spaces with strong links to the wider community, DWP Jobcentres are uniquely placed to help vulnerable people access help on a local or national level. Ask for ANI provides victims with a discreet route to get urgent help and is an important part of the extensive support offer already in place nationally across our network.”

The announcement about the pilot in Jobcentres comes as part of a package of measures announced by the government including tougher ongoing management of those with a conviction of controlling or coercive behaviour, a pilot of new Civil Orders providing flexible, longer-term protection for victims and adding violence against women and girls to the Strategic Policing Requirement.

Find your nearest Safe Space

*The Jobcentres taking part in the pilot are:

Ellesmere Port, Warrington, Crewe, Blackburn, Preston, Carlisle, Birkenhead, St Helens, Merthyr Tydfil, Barry, Newport Charles Street, Arbroath, Peterhead, Dunfermline, Armagh, Andersonstown, Larne, and Lisnagelvin.