The Church of England has launched ‘Safe Spaces’, an online and telephone service to help survivors and victims of abuse carried out by clergy or church officers, however long ago it happened.
Victim Support, a national charity with a track record of providing survivor support, has been commissioned to run the service.
It will run initially for two years.
Safe Spaces comprises a team of trained support advocates, who have undergone specialist training in supporting survivors of sexual violence and who have received additional specific training in how the churches respond to abuse cases, the way in which faith and church-related settings have been used to carry out abuse, and the particular issues affecting people who have had or still have, a relationship with the church.
The service is for those who may have experienced any form abuse, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse, psychological abuse (including spiritual abuse), domestic abuse, coercive and controlling behaviour.
The Bishop of Southampton, Debbie Sellin, Deputy Lead Safeguarding Bishop for the Church of England, said:
“I’m delighted that this service will shortly be available to offer support and advice to survivors of abuse.
“I want to express my thanks to all those who have helped to bring the project together, particularly the survivors who have given of their time and energy.
“In Victim Support, we have an excellent operational lead, and we look forward to continuing a constructive partnership with then as well as the other denominations involved.
“I commend the service for use and hope colleagues will do all they can to promote it locally.”
To access support, visit www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk.