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Search for new permanent provider of Safe Spaces abuse helpline under way

09 September 2022

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THE two-year pilot of Safe Spaces, the helpline for survivors of church-based abuse, has concluded.

On 23 September, the current provider of the service, the charity Victim Support, is to be replaced by Splitz Support Service until a new permanent provider is found, it was announced on the Church of England safeguarding pages this week.

Safe Spaces was established in 2020 as a free national support service for people who have experienced abuse in the C of E or the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. Within weeks of opening, the C of E apologised after survivors complained that automated messages or calls were going unanswered (News, 16 October 2020).

A tendering process is under way to find a long-term provider, to be appointed in January. Until then, people who are already using Safe Spaces will continue to be supported by Victim Support, while new users will be supported by Splitz — described as “a specialist support and advocacy charity with experience in working with survivors of church-related abuse”.

A trustee of Safe Spaces, the Bishop of Southampton, the Rt Revd Debbie Sellin, said: “I am encouraged that we are now moving to establish it on a longer-term footing. . . As the pilot phase comes to an end, it is important that we now move to put a long-term provider in place, and I’m grateful to Splitz Support Service and Victim Support for supporting this transition phase.”

The lead RC bishop for safeguarding, the Rt Revd Paul Mason, who is a board member of the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA), said: “Whether you have used the Safe Spaces service previously, are currently receiving support, or may in the future, we will do everything we can to make sure there is always this free, confidential service available to you.”

The chief executive of Splitz Support Service, Claire Marshall, said: “We are honoured to be to taking the service forward at this crucial time, and committed to providing the best possible service for the victims of abuse in its many forms.”

Victim Support said that they would be working closely with the Churches to ensure a smooth transition. “As always, the well-being of victims remains at the heart of everything we do.”

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