First Light are pleased to be able to share the results of the 2024 Rocket Science Report

Safe Spaces, which launched in September 2020, is an independent advocacy and support service for victims and survivors of church-related abuse in the Catholic Church of England and Wales, the Church of England, and the Church in Wales.

The report notes that based on the views of survivors engaged in the evaluation, consultations with staff, as well as the monitoring reports, Safe Spaces has had a positive impact on the well-being and resilience of survivors who have engaged with the service.

It also highlights areas where the transition from the pilot project to the new service could have been smoother.

The report has been carried out by Rocket Science, an independent research and evaluation company, who were initially engaged to assess the pilot of Safe Spaces which ran from 2020 until the autumn of 2022, and who carried out a previous evaluation in 2023.

Safe Spaces is operated by the charity First Light, with a dedicated team of six highly trained professionals in place supported by robust systems and processes to manage risks.

The service is available to adults aged 18 or over who have experienced any kind of Church related abuse, including, but not limited to sexual violence, inappropriate sexual behaviour, physical abuse, financial abuse or exploitation, psychological abuse, spiritual abuse, domestic abuse, coercive and controlling behaviour and conversion therapy.

The service can be accessed online at https://safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk/ or by calling 0300 303 1056.

Responding to the report, trustees from the Safe Spaces Advisory Committee said: ‘As Trustees, we are delighted that Rocket Science has produced a further annual review of the work of Safe Spaces. Their independent Report highlights the progress made by First Light since taking over the contract in early 2023 and the support offered to victims and survivors. In particular we note the ten recommendations made by Rocket Science and we will be working with First Light on seeking ways to support their implementation.’

Martin Christmas-Nelson from First Light said “First Light are thankful to the survivors of church-related abuse who assisted in producing this report, and also grateful to Rocket Science for working closely with Safe Spaces to ensure the survivors were supported throughout what can be a difficult process.

“The team at First Light are proud of the findings of this report and the progress that has been made to make Safe Spaces an even more effective service for survivors of abuse.

“First Light are committed to using survivor voices to help guide and improve the service Safe Spaces already provides and help improve the lives and wellbeing of those who seek Safe Spaces support.”

Bishop Julie Conalty, The Bishop of Birkenhead in the Church of England, who is a trustee of Safe Spaces England & Wales (SSEW) said: “This is a really helpful review which not only shows that Safe Spaces has had a positive impact on the wellbeing and resilience of survivors of church-related abuse, but also makes constructive recommendations for further improvements.”

Bishop Paul Mason, Safeguarding Lead for the Catholic Church, Board Member of the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA) and a Trustee of SSEW said: “It is reassuring to see strong evidence of the positive impact Safe Spaces has for those with experience of church-related abuse. That is what it is there for, and why it is needed. We will continue to monitor progress, and listen to survivors about any further improvements, so this vital service continues making a difference.”