Milton Keynes-based Grand Union Housing Group is the first housing provider in the UK to launch a Safe Space to help tackle domestic abuse.
The housing association, which provides 27,000 customers and 12,000 homes across Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Hertfordshire, is launching the online initiative to help those experiencing domestic abuse – a problem which has only increased due to the lockdowns over the past year.
Through an untraceable online Safe Space via the organisation’s website, Grand Union customers and the wider public will be able to access information on helplines and specialist support services.
Online Safe Spaces aim to increase the opportunities for victims of domestic abuse to safely access support while carrying out daily online tasks.
Grand Union says it is committed to tackling domestic abuse, running three local domestic abuse refuges providing survivors the skills to return to the community, empowering individuals, and making them feel safe at home.
The provider is currently developing a fourth facility.
Grand Union also provides a telecare support service, Life24, which can be used for those fleeing from domestic violence.
In its latest scheme, the housing provider is partnering with Hestia for the groundbreaking Safe Space support service, which launches on 9 March.
Aileen Evans, group chief executive of Grand Union Housing Group, said: “At Grand Union, we know that everyone deserves a safe and secure place to call home.
“We take the issue of domestic abuse very seriously. Alongside our unique telecare service, refuges, and support available on our website, we’ve recently appointed a specialist manager for our Domestic Abuse and Safeguarding team.
“Sadly, the scale of domestic violence across the UK has only increased due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“According to the Office for National Statistics, domestic abuse rose by 10% in 2020 compared to the previous year.
“Now, more than ever, every housing provider has a duty to do all it can to prevent people suffering from violence and emotional abuse in their homes.
“We’re delighted to be the first housing association in the UK to have an online Safe Space, in partnership with Hestia, and urge other organisations in the sector to follow suit.”
Lyndsey Dearlove, head of Domestic Abuse Prevention at Hestia, said: “As we look towards eased restrictions in our everyday lives, access to specialist domestic abuse support must remain readily accessible.
“Businesses continue to have a unique role in breaking the silence around domestic abuse and ensuring victims can access the help and support they need.
“We are delighted to work alongside Grand Union Housing Group to provide a community response to domestic abuse with Safe Spaces online launching.”
Online Safe Spaces will be available to access via the Grand Union website by clicking the Safe Spaces logo.
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