Kingston’s Metro Bank is now one of 7,000 Safe Spaces in the UK for supporting victims of domestic abuse.
Part of the UK’s Says No More campaign, the Safe Spaces scheme offers a private area in commercial shops for people experiencing, or at risk of, domestic abuse.
“Domestic abuse is a delicate situation and comes in many forms – it’s not just violence but also can be part of finances,” said Avi Mundi, Kingston’s Metro store bank manager. “It is important to be cautious of this as finance is a significant part of a person’s autonomy.”
Mundi said Metro’s financial support for individuals included closing or blocking accounts and supporting them if they are victims of fraud.
Notified of the scheme, Metro staff have undergone online training to equip them with knowledge of how to support customers who may be victims of domestic abuse. Staff are advised on how to watch out for body language and non-verbal cues from customers.
“The most important thing is listening and believing it,” Mundi said.
Customers can go into Metro Banks and ask for Safe Space, and they will be guided by a member of staff to the safety deposit box room for privacy.
Individuals can then use the Safe Space according to their needs: they can use it to reach out to family or friends, contact specialist and professional help or even just take time out for themselves to work through different options.
The campaign is run by the domestic abuse charity Hestia as part of a global Say No More project with campaigns in both the US and Australia.
“For those experiencing domestic abuse, finding safe spaces can be a lifeline,” said Patrick Ryan, Chief Executive of Hestia.
“We have heard countless stories from survivors who were unable to even make a phone call without being monitored. Popping into a local high street bank may be the only time they are not watched.”
Kingston was part of the company’s pilot scheme in November 2022, which has now officially launched in 48 Metro Bank stores.
Mundi also expressed how the elements of the Safe Space scheme could be widened to include customers with mental health problems or those vulnerable to crime. He said: “Metro Bank is a community bank and it is important to know our customers.
“It’s just another step of being part of the community.”
If you or someone you know is suffering or at risk of domestic abuse, you can call Kingston Domestic Violence Hub on 020 8547 6046, 9am- 5:30am Monday to Friday.
For 24-hour support, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.