Safe Spaces Newsletter

Quarterly Updates – Issue 2

March 2024

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 just our second 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.

The Rocket Science Report

Towards the end of last year, a contract was signed with Safe Spaces and Rocket Science, who are a market research company, to assess the performance of Safe Spaces since January 2023, when First Light took on the service. You might be aware that Rocket Science did the same thing regarding the initial 2-year pilot scheme and made some recommendations that have formed the core of our approach as we’ve tried to progress the service.

We sent out a questionnaire to everyone who uses Safe Spaces for whom we have an email address on in our records, and Rocket Science also interviewed 8 survivors early this year, and all the staff, including the manager and First Light’s CEO Lyn Gooding to ask our opinions on how the last 12 months or so have gone, what’s been good, what’s been tougher than expected, and lesson to learn for the future.

Having now seen the final draft of the report, we’re pleased with the content, and looking forward to being able to share it soon. There’s still lots to learn and changes we can make, but the feedback of survivors is vital for this, and we’re very grateful. If you’d like to provide feedback for the ongoing Rocket Science research, just get in touch and let us know!

Some further Safe Spaces updates…

Training – Over the last 12 months or so since we took on the Safe Spaces contract, First Light and the staff have all been searching far and wide for additional training to help us all understand the wider picture of abuse within the church, both from church bodies that we have regular contact with, and secular organisations too. This has included training on spiritual abuse, congregation ‘shunning’, LGBTQIA+ awareness including so called ‘conversion therapy’, and very shortly we shall be undertaking training designed to help us support survivors of abuse who also have criminal records or convictions for sexual offenses themselves, so we can work more safely and keep others safer through the work we continue to do.

Peer Support – As per the recommendations in the Rocket Science report for the 2 year pilot operation of Safe Spaces, we’ve started to make plans for peer support spaces provided by Safe Spaces. This isn’t a straightforward process, and we want to get it right and operate it safely, so we started by sending a questionnaire out to our service users, and the results were clear – you want peer support! We’ve now moved onto step 2, which is discussing with a few survivors in a steering group to make sure what we produce meets the needs of survivors, and does so safely. We’ve started to make enquiries too to get staff trained in peer support facilitation, so we can maintain a safe and supportive environment when we do launch the peer support service. We are really excited, and can’t wait to get the service up and running to add another string to our bow, and another way in which you can receive support and share your stories.

Engagement – Now that we’re fully staffed and up to speed with our knowledge and skillsets, we’re pushing on with our plans to further our outreach and engagement work. We’ve looked at our first year’s data and analysed it, to see if there are groups of people who are under-represented in Safe Spaces’ clientele. As such, we’ve seen that young people feature very rarely in our contact and support, and people who identify as coming from non-white British backgrounds. We can’t say too much, but we’ve identified ways we can begin to reach out to these communities, including increasing awareness of Safe Spaces in university and learning areas to appeal to younger people in particular, often living away from home for the first time and thinking about their faith and upbringing. We’ve got other plans afoot too, so watch this space!

Amplifying Survivor’s Voices


“In my experience, you’re amazing and I’m more than happy to tell them that you’re instrumental in my healing. The other team members e.g. ***** have been helpful when involved too. You have all been wonderful and supportive.”


 “Your help / support is showing me I am a human being worth listening to.”


 “Sometimes my thoughts about certain emotions surrounding what has taken place in life change because I am healing / recovering. The biggest change in my mind is because of you.”

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

Thank you, once again, for your continued interest, feedback and support of Safe Spaces. Our staff work very hard to help people, and every little bit of feedback and encouragement we receive to remind us it’s appreciated goes a very long way.

Thank you also to those of you who completed the Rocket Science questionnaire and who provided more detailed feedback if you were asked. We look forward to asking more of you to participate in the second year of the project.

Thank you also to our partner agencies and commissioners for your help and guidance, and I hope you’re all having as good a start to 2024 as has been possible, in spit of the incessant rain!

Sincerely, Martin Christmas-Nelson