Ilkley fire station is among the first in the UK to offer a 'safe spot' for people fleeing domestic abuse.
The pilot scheme run by Bradford Council includes a total of 8 fire stations across the district as West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue becomes the first fire service in the UK to provide support to victims in this way.
Victims of domestic abuse will be given a private space to access useful information and will be provided with a phone to contact a helpline, support service, or to talk to a friend or family member.
The launch comes as tech abuse is on the rise, where perpetrators use technology to stalk, isolate and control their victims using their mobile phones, smart devices or social media accounts. By providing a phone for people to use, Safe Spots ensure that victims and survivors can speak to support services without the fear of being monitored.
The plan is to roll out the Safe Spot scheme to more organisations locally, so that victims and survivors know that they are safe no matter where they are across the district.
Councillor Abdul Jabar said: “Through our Safe Spot partners we are creating a community response to the trauma created by domestic abuse. We want to make sure that people across our district have different ways of reporting their concerns and to ask for help where needed. These don’t change the fact that the police are available if a crime is committed and that we have excellent domestic abuse services available by phone or through web chat. We know that some people facing abuse might not have free access to their phone or the confidence to call an organisation they have never spoken to.
“Safe Spots are district organisations that people already have confidence in and this is why we chose the fire service as our first partner. They are places people might pass by on their way to the shop or when taking their children to school. As part of our response to domestic abuse and sexual violence we are saying that using a Safe Spot will mean that you can get support to learn about your options and help to take that next step to safety. We encourage people to use our Safe Spots if they need help and I would encourage other organisations to volunteer to become Safe Spots to help widen our network.”
Jemma Burgess, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service district prevention manager added: “To pilot the concept, the fire service staff who work in our stations have been given guidance on how to support victims in those crucial moments after fleeing an abusive situation.
"While not specifically trained as domestic abuse workers, our staff will ensure victims are given access to a private and secure area, provided contact numbers for local and national support services, and given access to a phone to use free of charge.”
Benjy Bush, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Bradford district manager commented: “Domestic abuse is often hidden and is not always violent. It continues to be a challenge in Bradford and an urgent threat to too many people. It is only by working in partnership with other agencies, organisations, and within the communities it affects, that we can reduce the number of people suffering from this crime.”
The fire stations open as a Safe Spot are:
Bingley - Keighley Road, Bingley BD16 2RD
Bradford - 540 Leeds Road BD3 9SB
Fairweather Green - Thornton Road, Fairweather Green BD8 0EH
Ilkley - Little Lane, Ilkley LS298JJ
Keighley - Bradford Road, Keighley BD21 4BW
Odsal - Huddersfield Road, Odsal BD6 1DJ
Shipley - Shipley Fields Road, Shipley BD18 2FA
Silsden - Elliot Street, Silsden BD20 0DE
If you are an organisation and you would like to become a Safe Spot, you can email Domestic.Abuse@bradford.gov.uk