Safe Spaces, the free national support service for victims and survivors of church-related abuse, will increase operational hours under a newly appointed independent provider, First Light, which took over the service in January.
Safe Spaces offers a confidential, personal, and safe space for anyone who has been abused through their relationship with either the Church of England, The Church in Wales or The Catholic Church in England and Wales, regardless of disability, age, gender or sexual orientation.
The Safe Spaces Services will be available on 0300 303 1056 or via the website.
Opening hours will be extended to Monday to Friday 9am – 9pm, Saturday 9-1pm and Sunday from 1-5pm (excluding bank holidays, subject to review).
First Light is an independent organisation with over 25 years’ experience in supporting those who have experienced or are experiencing sexual abuse and/or domestic violence and abuse, including survivors and victims of church-related abuse.
First Light were appointed by The Church of England, The Church in Wales and The Catholic Church in England and Wales on 24 November 2022 after a rigorous recruitment process by The Board of Trustees of Safe Spaces England and Wales including victims and survivors. First Light have assumed responsibility of the website and communications for Safe Spaces, and will post updates in due course.
Lead Bishop for Safeguarding in the Diocese of Chester, Bishop Julie Conalty, says: "I’m really pleased that survivors and victims of church-related abuse will have extended access to this vital independent service now delivered by First Light. I continue to pray for anyone affected by church-related abuse and believe that Safe Spaces will provide much-needed support for them.”
Lyn Gooding, Chief Executive of First Light said: “We are delighted to have been selected to deliver this vital service to survivors. We’re confident that we have the skills, experience, understanding and expertise be able to offer survivors a truly independent support service. We are proud to say we’re here for anyone who needs us on their journey to recovery, and towards a future free from abuse.”
Support for victims of abuse
If you are a victim or survivor of church-related abuse, or you or someone you know has been affected by one of the independent reports looking into safeguarding practice within the diocese, please know that support is available to you.