Safe Spaces Newsletter

Quarterly Updates – Issue 1

November 2023

Welcome to Safe Spaces quarterly newsletter!

Thank you for signing up to receive our news! If you have been forwarded this document but want to receive it directly, you can sign up yourself at www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk

This is our first update since First Light took on responsibility for Safe Spaces in January, but we’ll be making it regular to keep you informed, and give you a chance to have your say about how things are going!

Contact us…

We are available Mon-Friday 0900-2100, Sat 0900-1300 and Sun 1300-1700

By phone: 0300 303 1056

Email: safespaces@firstlight.org.uk

Website and Livechat: www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk

Safe Spaces is open, and there are no waiting lists for support.

You do not have to have reported the incident to the Church authorities or the Police in order to access support.

You do not need to be a current active member of the Church in order to access support.

Some good news…

Since January, we’ve been aware that the Safe Spaces website is outdated, confusing and unclear. It has been an ongoing task to overhaul it and bring it into the 21st century and we’ve finally managed it!

The new website design has incorporated user feedback, input from other professionals, and a lot of hard work from First Light’s Communications Officer, and as a result features more concise and accurate information, a clearer layout, and much faster access to the resources that you might need, both inside and outside of our working hours.

Most importantly, it now features an online referral form, making it easier for survivors, professionals and anyone else to submit a referral to Safe Spaces, and for us to make sure all the information we need is clearly and accurately recorded, helping us to improve the quality of our support.

We hope you’re as happy with it as we are, but if you have any comments     or suggestions to improve it,                 let us know by emailing safespaces@firstlight.org.uk and we’ll do what we can!

Some further Safe Spaces updates…

Staffing – Since we took on the Safe Spaces contract in January, our staffing numbers have been steadily increasing to deal with demand. We’re delighted to say that we now have a full complement of staff working full time for Safe Spaces, consisting of a manager, 2 Support Advisors to operate the helpline, webchat and triage our new contacts, and 3 Survivor Advocates who provide longer term support to survivors. Thanks is due to all the survivors who offered to help during recruitment processes, from writing questions to sitting on interview panels. It’s wonderful to be able to use survivor voices to shape the service.  Information and bios for our staff are now available on the website. All staff continue to receive specialist training from secular and non-secular sources to further their understanding of church-related abuse. In addition, we have a pool of experienced staff who work on our out of hours helpline service.


Demand – Our service has steadily grown since January, reflecting the increase in demand and growing awareness of Safe Spaces. When our contract began, we inherited 43 survivor cases, and that number has now grown to 90 open cases being supported. We’re very proud of this growth, but also acutely aware that this is still just a drop in the ocean when considering the number of people who would benefit from our support, so we’re determined to grow further in the future.


Growth – As a combination of our successful recruitment and increased demand, we’ve now formulated a structured plan to further extend our reach and awareness of Safe Spaces, in particular within non-religious institutions so that we can reach those affected by abuse who no longer have a connection to the church. All our staff are now busy contacting a wide range of agencies including the police, Department for Work and Pensions, social care, Local Authorities, other charities and not-for-profit organisations, as well as strengthening our understanding and cooperation with Diocesan and Cathedral Safeguarding teams within the Church  of England, Church in Wales and Catholic Church in England and Wales. This has created opportunities to deliver talks, seminars and training sessions to raise awareness of church-related abuse and its impact, as well as the important role Safe Spaces can play in providing support to people who have been abused.

Amplifying Survivor’s Voices


“Thank you for checking in and all the support you and Safe Spaces are giving me. I don’t think I’d be able to do this without you.”

“Thanks to the support of Safe Spaces, I feel lifted, my energy is coming back and I’m finding my voice again.”

“Thank you, Safe Spaces! I had a completely LIFE CHANGING call yesterday on the out of hours helpline. All of you are doing such an amazing job.  
I can’t thank you all enough.”

“I had felt like I was being prideful and arrogant for expressing anger and wanting vengeance toward the perpetrator. My Safe Spaces advocate helping me understand that this was my right to receive justice helped me move forward and feel”

Survivor Contributions

We’re really keen to give survivors a Safe Space to express themselves and contribute to the recovery and wellbeing of other survivors as well as themselves.

With this in mind, in the future we’d like to dedicate this space to showcasing the insight, musings and myriad talents of the survivors we support.

We’d love to receive poetry, prose, photos of artwork or any other creative endeavours, and any suggestions or helpful tips to help others recover and thrive as you have done. Email anything relevant to safespaces@firstlight.org.uk or directly to your Survivor Advocate and we’ll gladly and proudly share it here.

Closing thoughts from the Safe Spaces manager

Firstly, I’d like to thank you all for your continuing support and belief in Safe spaces as a force for good. It’s been a steep learning curve for First Light and for myself since we took on Safe Spaces in January, and I feel like we’re on the right track and making improvements as we learn and grow. The continued input and belief from survivors makes this much easier, and I’m eternally grateful for the help we’ve had along the way from you!

It’s been an honour and privilege to have the opportunity to help such a wonderful and diverse survivor group, and I look forward to working closely with many survivors in the future to continue to grow and develop our service to help even more people.


Martin Christmas-Nelson (Safe Spaces manager)