Royal Mail Group Develops Online Safe Spaces Service To Support Victims Of Domestic Abuse

Amid growing reports of domestic violence during lockdown , Royal Mail develops an ‘Online Safe Spaces’ portal, which can be installed on corporate websites for free.

  1. This discreet service helps abuse victims access support and advice, while leaving no internet history trace

Today, Royal Mail Group announces the launch of a free ‘Online Safe Spaces’ portal for corporate websites, to support victims of domestic abuse. The service has been developed in collaboration with the charity Hestia and its ‘UK SAYS NO MORE’ campaign.

‘Online Safe Spaces’ is a discreet portal that opens in a pop-up window, which can be installed on both internal and external websites. The service provides support, advice and helpful contact numbers for those at risk of domestic abuse. It leaves no internet history trace, and provides quick exit options for the person seeking information.

Royal Mail Group has worked with the national ‘UK SAYS NO MORE’ campaign and abuse experts from the University of Bristol to ensure that the ‘Online Safe Spaces’ provides a host of helpful links and information, including; when to dial 999, national helplines, local support groups and further useful links. It also includes a questionnaire to determine the participant’s risk of domestic abuse.

The initiative was developed by Royal Mail Senior Legal Advisor Charlie Ryan and Hawkrose Ltd MD Rob Fern, following their involvement in the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers – Global Legal Hackathon Challenge*. The challenge asked participants to produce the most pioneering solutions to societal problems posed by the Covid-19 crisis

The term ‘Safe Spaces’ aligns with the current ‘UK SAYS NO MORE’ campaign, which provides physical Safe Spaces in retail premises for victims of domestic abuse. Participants so far include Boots, Superdrug and Morrisons.

The campaign’s chosen logo is a blue circular ‘Safe Spaces’ pin, which was launched as part of the ‘UK SAYS NO MORE’ campaign. The weblink will be hosted on external and internal websites across Royal Mail Group, including Royal Mail and Parcelforce Worldwide.

‘Online Safe Spaces’ reinforces the Company’s Domestic Abuse Guide, which provides all employees with information, and directions to support services. It also offers guidance of what managers and colleagues should do if they suspect a team member may be at risk of, or is experiencing, domestic abuse.

Sally Ashford, Chief HR Officer, Royal Mail Group said: “We have developed the ‘Online Safe Spaces’ portal to help victims of domestic abuse access vital support if they need it online. By placing the link on high traffic websites like Royal Mail and Parcelforce Worldwide, we hope that victims will be able to use the service discreetly if required without placing themselves at further risk. We are encouraging all our partners to install the portal on their sites too. We hope that the portal will inspire affected individuals to feel confident enough to seek help”

Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said: “As a Government, we are determined to work with everyone who wants to combat the horrors of domestic abuse.

“One of the key aims of our #youarenotalone campaign was to encourage members of the public and business to play a vital role in identifying victims of domestic abuse and helping them seek support.

“I welcome organisations like Royal Mail Group and campaigns like UK SAYS NO MORE using the power of technology to create discreet ways for victims to keep safe and access the support services available”.

Claire Barnett, Executive Director, UN Women UK said: “Covid-19 has led to increases in violence against women that threaten to roll back achievements in gender equality by decades. UN Women has been working with local partners to create safer public spaces for the past ten years, including through our project Safe Spaces Now. I am delighted to see the Online Safe Space initiative innovating by using existing platforms and partners to share critical information on women's services, and encourage brands to take part.”

Lyndsey Dearlove, Head of UK SAYS NO MORE at Hestia said: “Businesses have a unique role to play in breaking the silence around domestic abuse and ensuring victims can access the help and support they need. Lockdown restrictions due to Covid-19 have provided an opportunity for businesses to step up their response to domestic abuse for their staff and customers through digital platforms. With the launch of Online Safe Spaces, we are delighted to work with Royal Mail to provide the first online safe space to provide a vital lifeline to victims of domestic abuse.”

Source: Royal Mail Group

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