The Queen visits support spaces for survivors of domestic abuse
Over the past week, The Queen has visited three support spaces and centres for survivors of domestic abuse. Read more.
For many years, The Queen has worked to highlight the efforts of domestic abuse charities and their work to support victims and survivors, both in the UK and overseas, with the aim of breaking the taboo around the subject.
Her Majesty, as Duchess of Cornwall, became Patron of the UK charity, SafeLives, in 2020, after the first national lockdown. Her Majesty supported the Reach In campaign, encouraging communities to 'reach in' to victims of abuse at that difficult time. It remains one of SafeLives’ most viewed campaigns.
Since becoming Queen, Her Majesty's focus on this area of her work has continued in earnest. In November 2022, Her Majesty hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace bringing together individuals and organisations who are working in the Violence Against Women space.
During the reception, The Queen gave a speech in which she talked of the growing issue of violence against women globally, and the hope which many of those attending offered survivors and future generations of women and girls.
We are uniting today to confront, rightly, what has rightly been called a global pandemic of violence against women. Faced with such challenges, it can be hard to know what practical steps we can take to even begin to make a difference.
Her Majesty The Queen, November 2022
Tuesday 23rd January - Refuge's Gaia Centre, South London
The Gaia Centre opened its doors in 2012, as one of the first services in the UK to offer a single point of access for those experience violence and abuse. The centre provides confidential, non-judgemental support to those living in the borough of Lambeth who are experiencing gender-based violence.
During Her Majesty's visit, The Queen privately met with survivors of domestic abuse, who shared their personal stories and their experience of being supported by Refuge. Her Majesty also visited a children’s playroom and heard from Refuge’s specialist staff about how children who have experienced domestic abuse, and other forms of gender-based violence, including Child Sexual Exploitation, are supported by the centre.
I particularly salute all the survivors who are able to get out there; to talk to me, talk to everybody and tell other people about what they’ve been through, because they are going to save lives by getting others to come forward.
Her Majesty The Queen
Her Majesty spoke to frontline staff from Refuge’s service delivery teams, including early years workers and the community outreach team. The Queen also met members of the leadership team and spoke to representatives from Lambeth Council, which commissions the Gaia Centre service; a lifeline for so many.
Monday 22nd January - Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SDASS)
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SDASS), The Queen visited the charity’s refuge, Jenni’s House and meet staff, volunteers, families and partner agencies including Wiltshire Police and Swindon Borough Council, highlighting their work in support, prevention, education and early intervention, including work with perpetrators.
The refuge can host 22 families at a time, with 20 flats that have between one and three bedrooms, as well as an emergency bedsit. Women and children are offered a safe place to live and tend to stay for around four months. Every year it supports around 62 families, including 78 children.
The Queen met families living in the refuge and unveiled a plaque to celebrate the charity’s 50th anniversary.
Thursday 18th January - Safe Space at Aberdeen Art Gallery
The Queen opened a new ‘Safe Space’ at Aberdeen Art Gallery, which will provide help and support from specially trained staff to people who are personally suffering or suspect someone may be living with domestic abuse.
The new Safe Space at the Gallery will be staffed by people who have received additional training on mental health awareness and domestic abuse. It will be an area that can be used to seek help, or simply to reflect and remember. During today's visit, in the ‘Art of Empowerment’ Gallery, The Queen met the team who have been trained to obtain the venue’s ‘Safe Space’ status.
In Gallery 8, Her Majesty met artist Shelagh Swanson, who has created artwork inspired by her journey as a survivor of domestic abuse. The art is visible both internally and externally to signify the venue as a safe space location. The Art Gallery is open to the public seven days a week and is free to enter.
During the visit, Her Majesty met representatives from SafeLives Scotland, who discussed lived experiences.
The charity works with organisations such as Aberdeen City Council to transform the response to domestic abuse by providing training, awareness and research to staff. They listen to survivors, putting their voices at the heart of their thinking.
Last year alone, almost 25,000 professionals received training from SafeLives. Over 79,000 adults at risk of serious harm or murder and more than 99,000 children received support, designed by the charity and delivered with partners. More than 1,200 perpetrators have been challenged and supported to change by interventions SafeLives created with partners.