25 November 2022, The Tablet

Charity appointed to run Safe Spaces support

The board of trustees of Safe Spaces England and Wales announced that First Light will run the service from January.

Charity appointed to run Safe Spaces support

Safe Spaces has supported more than 300 victims of abuse since it began in September 2020.
Safe Spaces England and Wales

The charity First Light will run the Safe Spaces support service for victims for church-related abuse from January 2023.

The service, jointly funded by the Catholic Church in England and Wales, the Church of England and the Anglican Church in Wales, was put out to tender after a two-year pilot period run by the charity Victim Support from September 2020. Over 300 victims accessed the service in that period.

The board of trustees of Safe Spaces England and Wales, the charity which commissions the service, announced the appointment of First Light on 24 November.

They had announced the tender process at the end of the Victim Support pilot in September this year. Splitz Support Services (since renamed FearLess) provided the service in the interim.

The Bishop of the Forces, Paul Mason, is the lead on safeguarding for the bishops’ conference and one of the trustees. He said it was “vital that victims have a source of support from an independent body who specialise in this area”.

“We have complete confidence that First Light will deliver this service in the long term and will make a difference to those who need it,” he said.

“We would like to thank every survivor who has worked with us to help ensure a continuity of support and excellence of service.”

Safe Spaces offers a national helpline for remote support, and assists with information and advocacy for people aged 18 or over who have been victims of any sort of church-related abuse at any point in their lives. Survivors of abuse contributed to the design and development of the service.

First Light is a charity for victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse based in south-west England, formed in 2017 from the merger of two existing charities.

Its chief executive, Lyn Goody, 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.”

The Anglican Bishop of Southampton, Debbie Sellin, another trustee of Safe Spaces England and Wales, said that the appointment of First Light “will build on the work of Victim Support during the pilot phase”.

“I would like to reassure existing users of the service, who have already been notified of the change, that you will be supported during the transition to First Light,” she said.

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