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What a year! A year full of the unexpected as well as the planned, the cheering and successful as well as some much harder points. It’s almost impossible to do justice to the extent of the team’s achievements, and also the manifest challenges which we encountered. The report as a whole is our attempt to do this; my own summary thoughts are below.

  • Running through everything, from year start to end, was authentic voice. SafeLives Pioneers and a far bigger number of survivors we engaged with kept surprising and challenging and changing the people around them, from our #ImASurvivor campaign, to the voices of men and boys from all over the UK, hundreds of survivors engaging with us in Scotland, under 500 young people ‘Talking About Toxic’, Pioneers taking the stage with Royalty, two Prime Ministers, multiple Ministers, the brilliant Women of the World festival participants, and 100 public sector leaders. There’s no them and us and together there’s nothing we can’t do.

  • We celebrated our 15th anniversary and were honoured and delighted to welcome our new Patron, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, whose commitment and passion is inspiring our own team and survivors not just in the UK but worldwide. 

  • The UK Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill made progress – slow but methodical – through Parliament. We were really pleased to see the Government concede on our call with partners that children should be included in the definition of victims of domestic abuse, not just as linked to their parents, but in their own right. As the Bill moved forward, we were pleased to keep working with police forces and to start working with children’s social care to make a positive impact on how domestic abuse is viewed and responded to across the UK.


  • We continued to change the public conversation from ‘Why doesn’t she leave?’ to ‘Why doesn’t he stop?’ The Drive Project for high risk perpetrators was shown to be working well through independent evaluation and is being adopted by an increasing number of areas, and our partnership with Respect and Social Finance is something we hugely value. The Engage programme we developed with partners is opening up the options for couples who don’t plan to separate. The UK Government, lobbied by us with nearly 100 colleague organisations through the Call to Action, launched the first ever dedicated fund for perpetrator responses.


  • Covid-19 upended everything. The team were truly exceptional in the way they responded to changing circumstances, thinking from the outset about how we could support survivors and frontline practitioners with so much worry and uncertainty, and focusing on practical methods of keeping responses going despite the situation. We should be clear, though, that Covid-19 has been incredibly challenging for our mission, and also personally, professionally and financially. The difficulty it has caused (and exaggerated, in terms of pre-existing structural problems and inequalities) is a long way from over. We don’t underestimate that. 


  • Covid-19 created a welcome surge in new partners. This includes commercial organisations thinking about their role as an employer and a supplier of services to people suddenly locked down at home. The domestic abuse sector has worked with greater cohesion than ever to face the new challenges 2019/20 brought and we really hope we’ve been experienced as a good ally through the year. 


  • While Covid-19 was still fomenting, much of the world was rocked on its heels by the murder of George Floyd in America and the way that galvanised conversations about racial justice. As an organisation we were brought up short about the extent of change we needed to make in leadership, visibility, structure, pace and impact with regards to racial justice. It shouldn’t have been necessary for a major international moment and a small number of brave individuals to point that out. We are determined to do better – and to be completely transparent about it: EDI Plan. We know we still have a great deal to do. 


  • The year 2020/21 holds a great deal of uncertainty but we go into it more committed than ever. Specifically, we will keep building on the increased public awareness and understanding of domestic abuse that Covid-19 has brought, working with the greatest number of partners possible to do that. We will keep pushing upstream of the problem, developing further our Safe Young Lives series of projects, and always looking for ways to wrap around whole family, so that no one is left behind. 



In 2019/20 we needed people’s support more than ever. Our Trustees, Pioneers and associate team members were unstinting and unrelenting in how much they offered and the expertise they brought. Funders – large and small – showed their trust in us when times got very challenging, very quickly. Many were breathtakingly nimble in how quickly they provided extra support. Partners acted as a safety net for each other as we all faced major headwinds. And individual survivors – everywhere from Jersey to the Highlands and Islands and so many places in between – trusted us. We have so much to do, but we are going to end domestic abuse, for everyone and for good.



Suzanne Jacob

Chief Executive 

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Our Patron

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall



This year, we were incredibly proud to announce Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall as our Patron. 

Speaking at a Women of the World event earlier this year, HRH said

It’s not a nice subject to talk about and I think that’s been one of its problems. It’s been a taboo subject for so long that people just haven’t talked about it. 


As I’ve said before, silence is corrosive because it leaves the victims feeling both shame and blame. I wanted to lift the shroud of this silence and get more women, children and men to talk about their experiences.

Reflecting on the patronage, HRH said:

I want to say how proud I am to have become Patron of SafeLives. SafeLives will always stick in my memory from the first visit I paid there…that was the moment when I thought, goodness I’ve got to do something to help these people.





Our strategy to end domestic abuse, for good

Our Whole Picture strategy sets out a comprehensive and enduring approach to end domestic abuse for good. This report explores each of our Strategic Priorities and our progress in more detail.


Our Highlights

More than 1,000 young people responded to our ‘Talk About Toxic’ survey, allowing us to use that insight to launch a new digital platform to help 13-19 year olds identify abusive behaviours.





“At the beginning, he was really sweet and he cared about me. But about 4 months in, he pressured me into having sex. I didn’t want to say no because I was scared he’d get angry. He got angry a lot.”

Survivor, Talk About Toxic survey





or is harmed 







Our Drive pilot which works with high harm, high risk perpetrators of abuse, has been found to be effective at reducing the risk perpetrators pose. Research showed a substantial reduction in the use of abuse, including physical abuse reduced by 82% and jealous and controlling behaviours reduced by 73% 

“You have asked me challenging questions which have given me a different perspective on my situation. I have taken responsibility for the way things are.” 
Drive service user






risk & abuse reduction





We supported more than 70,000 adults, who between them were the parents or carers of 85,000 children, through dedicated multi-agency support across the UK designed by us and delivered with partners. 



for those 

at risk

70,000 adults 

“It’s like when you go into it, and you’ve got an empty toolbox, you come out of it, it’s chock-a-block full. And you know, you’ve got the tools and the information and the knowledge that you can do this.”

We had our biggest training year ever, with nearly 13,500 voluntary, public and business sector professionals trained, including 377 domestic abuse professionals completing our accredited training. 

“SafeLives’ advice and support has been invaluable in shaping and informing the way we help customers affected by domestic abuse.”

Marcelino Castrillo, MD Customer Engagement & Distribution, NatWest

85,000 children

13,500 professionals





Our Pioneers have worked closely with our new Patron HRH The Duchess of Cornwall bringing much needed public focus to domestic abuse. Together, we launched our #ReachIn campaign response to Covid-19, to encourage everyone to take an active role to reach in and check on friends and family members. 



to lives they

want after

harm occurs


“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring your own folding chair. SafeLives is my folding chair.”


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or is harmed 

In summer 2019, over 1,200 men and boys, aged 11 upwards from across the UK told us about their attitudes and experiences in relation to relationships - many said this was the first time they had been asked. 64% agreed that ‘society tells us men should be tough’ and ‘real men don’t cry’ and 84% agreed that ‘society’s view of masculinity can have a negative effect on mental health’. 


Many people will relate to these societal views. What feels new from our engagement work is a sense of the impact on the beliefs and behaviours of men and boys. 


Over a quarter of men over the age of 16 said they had used behaviour they now regretted, and 64% said this had happened in early relationships. They were also inclined to rate trust as more important in healthy relationships than love. The top five behaviours chosen as the most important were trust (39%), love (17%), respect of each other’s needs (11%), honesty (10%) and friendship (9%). 

“You can’t make someone love you.
Making them fear you isn’t the same thing.”

Survey respondent

We worked with Bristol-based youth magazine Rife to create online content for the survey and with award-winning production studio, Archer’s Mark, to summarise the findings and highlight the need to build confidence and understanding around healthy relationships. We are now talking to youth organisations across the country and we can’t wait to begin the next phase of this work.

We know that men and boys are more likely to harm themselves and other people, and less likely to talk about it.


We won’t end domestic abuse without involving men and boys, so we are listening to their voices.

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We are committed to stopping harm before it begins – working with young people to help them understand their own and other people’s behaviour in relationships. 

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This year we worked with On Our Radar and a steering group of young people to launch our ‘Talk about Toxic’ survey, which heard from just under 500 young people. They told us they don’t know the point at which a relationship starts to become unhealthy or toxic and they lack the confidence or self-esteem to say “that’s not okay”. 


Nearly 70% of teens would use the word ‘toxic’ to describe harmful relationships. They don’t identify with the term ‘domestic abuse’ and they don’t know what support is out there. The majority (66%) would turn to their best friend for advice rather than anyone else, and 51% want support to understand what is and isn’t ok in relationships.

“At the beginning, he was really sweet and he cared about me. But about 4 months in, he pressured me into having sex. I didn’t want to say no because I was scared he’d get angry. He got angry a lot.”

Survivor, Talk about Toxic survey

“He started asking me for all of my passwords for my social media. If I refused, he would get angry at me. Sometimes he would get physical with me. A few times if I refused to do something he would punch me and kick me. He then started to tell me that I couldn’t see my family or friends. It was horrible.”

Survivor, Talk about Toxic survey

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We have taken these findings and worked with young people to develop ‘Draw The Line’, a new digital platform, designed to help 13-19 year olds identify ‘toxic’ or abusive behaviours. It uses real stories and asks you to draw a line at the point where you believe the relationship becomes abusive, allowing you to compare with the lines other young people and SafeLives’ experts draw. We have just launched the pilot and are excited by the response so far.

“We’ve found a wonderful partner in SafeLives – one that shares our passion for community voices and designing campaigns that are genuinely led by those with lived experience…The SafeLives team have been great creative companions throughout the project and have helped to introduce a wide network of young people into the centre of the collaborative design process.”

Libby Drew, Director, On Our Radar



In 2020/21, we’ll build on this knowledge to develop our new Safe Young Lives programme. We will support those who might be experiencing abuse themselves or are worried about a friend. And we will test the links between harm experienced at home and harm carried out into the world, in first intimate relationships and through other types of crime associated with young people. 











Domestic abuse is not acceptable or inevitable.

We are changing the narrative from ‘Why doesn’t she leave?’ to ‘Why doesn’t he stop?’ with a commitment to challenging those who use abuse to change.


The Drive partnership with Respect and Social Finance was developed to protect victims and survivors by addressing a gap in work with high-risk perpetrators of domestic abuse. Drive challenges and supports perpetrators to change and works with partner agencies - like the police and social services - to disrupt abuse. Over the last three years, Drive has worked with over 1,600 perpetrators, affecting the lives of around 1,800 adult victims/survivors and around 2,700 children and young people.

“For the first time, someone’s holding him to account, it’s not just me.”
Survivor testimony, 2020

“Without this work, we know that domestic abuse perpetrators will continue to
enter new relationships, create more victims, and expose more children to
harmful abusive behaviours. It is about ending abuse for the victims of today –
but also the victims of tomorrow.”

Drive Case Manager

The University of Bristol’s independent evaluation of the three year pilot has found that Drive is effective at reducing the risk perpetrators pose, with Idvas recording a reduction in risk to victims in 82% of cases and research showing a substantial reduction in the use of abuse: 


Police data showed perpetration of domestic violence and abuse offending had reduced by 30% for Drive service users in the six months after the intervention compared to six months before, whereas the control group were reported as perpetrating at the same level. The intervention also had a positive impact on their other offending behaviour.

“You have asked me challenging questions which have given me a
different perspective on my situation. I have taken responsibility
for the way things are.”

Drive service user

We are delighted the partnership has secured a three-year National Lottery Community Fund grant to expand into three new sites. In recent months, the team has adapted to working in lockdown and continuing to protect victims who may be at greater risk because of increased isolation. 

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Physical abuse reduced by 82%

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Sexual abuse reduced by 88%

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Harassment and stalking behaviours reduced by 75%

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Jealous and controlling behaviours

reduced by 73%

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Systems change: Call to Action for a perpetrator strategy


The Drive Partnership also came together with almost 80 organisations and individuals to call on the UK Government to create a perpetrator strategy. The message is clear: we urgently need comprehensive services for all victims and survivors and effective responses for all those who use abusive behaviour in their relationships. 


We presented the Call to Action in Parliament and it has formed a core part of our influencing work on the Domestic Abuse Bill, acknowledged by MPs, including former PM, Theresa May, and across UK wide media including the BBC and our CEO’s appearance on the Today programme - all echoing us in asking: ‘why doesn’t he stop?’. 


It has led directly to the first ever UK Government fund for perpetrator responses, announced by the Chancellor in March 2020, representing a huge change in Government thinking. We will continue to push for this change to be reflected in the longer-term approach of an eventual Comprehensive Spending Review.

"My opinion of perpetrator programmes has followed the evidence – I can change, proving that change is possible. I followed the science, as the Government like to say at the moment. The evidence base is now strong where previously it was not, so it presents an opportunity.”

Jess Phillips MP, Shadow Domestic Abuse Minister. Speaking during the Committee Stage of the Domestic Abuse Bill

"We commend the work of The Drive Partnership of Respect, SafeLives and Social Finance, who have done so much to change the narrative and shift the focus from, ‘Why doesn’t she leave?’ to ‘Why doesn’t he stop?’”

Alex Chalk MP. Speaking during the Committee Stage of the Domestic Abuse Bill

The Domestic Abuse Bill, England and Wales 


As the Domestic Abuse Bill has progressed through Parliament, we have made the case for it to meet the needs of the whole family. We welcome the inclusion of economic abuse and we were delighted the Bill was amended to ensure children are recognised as victims in their own right – an amendment we called for in partnership with the children’s sector. 

“The government’s landmark Domestic Abuse Bill will, for the first time, provide an all-purpose definition of domestic abuse in law, which includes economic abuse as a distinct form of abuse…I commend NatWest, SafeLives and Surviving Economic Abuse for working together to go further to help those who suffer from this deeply harmful crime, and I encourage others to do the same.”

Victoria Atkins MP, UK Government Minister for Safeguarding and Vulnerability

There are still changes we would like to see. We are urging the Government to strengthen the legislation and broaden its proposed statutory duty on local authorities for accommodation-based services, to include community-based services for all adult and child victims, as well as perpetrators of domestic abuse. 



Our #Invest2EndAbuse campaign, backed by Barnardo’s, Action for Children, NSPCC, Surviving Economic Abuse and more than 130 specialist services and national organisations, has powerfully noted the potential risks from the current framing of the duty and called for an end to the postcode lottery, with fully funded services for all victims. We will continue to press for change as the Bill goes to the Lords. 

“Our #Invest2EndAbuse campaign to secure a statutory duty on public bodies to commission specialist domestic abuse services for the whole family has been a fantastic partnership with national children’s charities including Barnardo’s, and has gained the support of the new Domestic Abuse Commissioner and the Victim’s Commissioner.”

Jessica Asato, Head of Public Affairs and Policy, SafeLives

Domestic Abuse

(Scotland) Act 

We completed our marathon delivery of the Domestic Abuse Matters Scotland (DAMS) programme to nearly 14,000 Police Scotland officers and staff, working with our sector partners to support the introduction of the new Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, which made controlling and coercive behaviour an offence for the first time.  


“It is essential that anyone suffering domestic abuse has the confidence and the knowledge to come forward and Police Scotland has been critical to the success of the new laws in the first 18 months. I know that this shouldn’t be taken for granted and I am very pleased to see the very positive impact that the SafeLives DA Matters Training has had – drawn from a collaborative approach across the justice system and third sector including ASSIST, the Caledonian System, SACRO (Fearfree) and Safer Borders.”

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf, Scottish Government

“I was initially resistant and didn’t want to go on DAMS but it has been the most valuable training I've been on in my 29 years of service. I have since told the other sergeants in the station to keep an open mind and that they'll enjoy it too.”

Police Officer, Police Scotland

Our evaluation found that after training, 85% of participants had a strong understanding of the new legislation and 95% of participants had a strong understanding of the tactics perpetrators use to coercively control victims. Officers using their new powers made 1,065 charges under the new Act in 2019/20, with 96% resulting in court proceedings being raised.

Domestic Abuse Matters 

We also celebrate five years of Domestic Abuse Matters, developed for the College of Policing and launched in 2015. Since then, we have worked with Police Scotland and almost half of English and Welsh forces, training 20 forces so far, with more lined up to commence in the coming months.

















The University of Hull’s recent evaluation, currently being peer reviewed, shows that Domestic Abuse Matters has a positive and sustained impact on forces trained and has led to a 41% increase in arrests for controlling and coercive behaviour.


We continue to train Domestic Abuse Champions across forces, who sustain the change in skills, behaviour and attitudes through continued support and development. This year, we have also worked with partners to develop a series of additional specialist workshops to address particular aspects of domestic abuse. These launched in September 2020, and cover topics such as adult to parent abuse, cyber/digital crime and domestic abuse, coerced suicide and domestic abuse in police ranks.

“I just wanted to let you know of a job where the perpetrator was arrested and I picked up the victim statement and case file, thanks to the course I asked questions outside of the normal box and got her to open up and disclose some horrific details. Thanks to this the statement was so descriptive highlighting the controlling side alongside the initial assault, a remand until crown court was authorised.
Thanks for the input as I feel on that night the knowledge you gave me ultimately may have helped me be able to save someone’s life.”

Response Officer, West Mercia





Increase safety for those at risk  


We look at the whole person, because domestic abuse is just one facet of somebody’s life. And we look at the whole family, developing multi-agency approaches so that adult and child victims can be safe, sooner.

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Since 2018, we have been working with local authorities on Whole Lives Scotland, to improve the responses for groups of victims and survivors across Scotland who too often remain ‘hidden’ from identification and therefore the support they need.


In Renfrewshire, our work with practitioners, professionals and survivors has addressed domestic abuse and mental health service provision, with guidance and training materials based direct consultation and evidence. In Stirling, we have explored how those with a learning disability access services and the team supported the creation of easy-read posters with partners, which have been used by over 70 organisations Scotland-wide.


Our national survey to find out what victims and survivors in Scotland need has heard from over 300 survivors from every local authority area. Two thirds of those survivors had never used a specialist service – so we know we are reaching women whose voices are currently unheard. We are grateful to everyone who trusted us with their stories and the findings were released in November 2020.

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In 2019/20, we supported more than 70,000 adults, who between them were the parents or carers for 85,000 children, through dedicated multi-agency support across the UK designed by us and delivered with partners.

And we know there is more to do – our Practitioners’ Survey highlighted the need for 300 more Idvas across England and Wales to support victims at risk of serious harm or murder. Our most recent Marac data  highlighted a 6% increase in cases heard at Marac in 12 months, compared to the same time period the year before, and a 27% increase compared to the same time period in 2016.

Multi-agency working and One Front Door


Building on the lessons from our One Front Door pilots, we are working with over 40 areas in England and Wales, predominantly local authorities, children’s services, Police and Crime Commissioners and police forces, helping them to streamline their multi-agency working and deliver better outcomes for adult and child victims and perpetrators by looking at the risks and needs for the whole family at the same time. 

Our work has included reviewing domestic abuse strategies, assessing needs, advising on enhanced safeguarding training, survivor consultations with adults and children, case audits and whole family risk assessments. 

“SafeLives assistance in implementing the One Front Door project has been invaluable. SafeLives have assisted us with training and auditing our cases and internal processes. Establishing such a project under the current conditions has been challenging however we believe that with the assistance of SafeLives we have a good foundation for the project moving on.”    

Anglesey County Council

During lockdown, we hosted national multi-agency workshops with hundreds of commissioners, service managers and senior police officers, to support them in addressing the increased risks associated with domestic abuse and to explore the challenges for the sector.


“The two things that stuck in my mind were the illustration showing the fragmentation of the ‘safeguarding’ systems that evolve to meet the requirements of the service systems and … inspection regimes, and the lived experience revealing the deep inhumanity, wastefulness, cruelty of the ‘service system’. And how transformative it can be when people step forward with compassion and competence!”

Workshop participant


“To see commissioners and decision makers realise the value of really listening to survivors and the positive change that this makes just makes my job worthwhile.” 

Pauline Deakin, Head of Practice, SafeLives

Innovation in practice:

‘Beacon’ sites


In our Beacon sites, Norwich and West Sussex, we have developed and trialled ground-breaking innovations in practice, which support families who might not otherwise be able to access help. Developed with expert partners and survivors, these allow earlier intervention; holistic care; support for children and young people; support for couples who plan to stay together; and work with survivors to live a life free from fear and abuse. These innovations are having a positive impact on the whole family..


Between November 2018 and April 2020, we supported 372 women. More than 600 children and young people have been identified and referred to specialist support. For those young people directly supported through a Beacon intervention, we saw an 81% reduction in witnessing abuse and a 47% reduction in demonstrating harmful behaviour at the end of the programme’.  


“My children are losing their fear and anxiety and as a family we are closer”
“He can see when I need space and vice versa, it’s not a bad thing to walk away from an argument”
“It’s easier now, giving the kids proper answers instead of changing the subject”

Survivor feedback on our children and young people intervention


Our Beacon work engages with perpetrators too, working with them to see the impact of their actions and to change their behaviour. At exit, service users who were assessed as posing a medium risk of harm reduced from 63% to 9%. There was a 51% reduction in service users using multiple types of abuse, and 75% said their relationship with their children had improved.


Accessibility is a cornerstone of the interventions. 4% of the adults we have supported identify as LGBT+, which is broadly in line with estimates for the UK. Nearly a quarter identified with a disability, which is higher than 18% for the national population; and 20% of clients came from a Black or minority ethnic community group – a percentage which is considerably higher than the local populations in both Norwich and West Sussex.

UCLAN (University of Central Lancashire), the independent evaluator of our Beacon work, has found 80% of survivors reporting an increase in their safety since having contact with the service. 95% of survivors reported seeing an increase in coping and confidence, over 90% seeing improvements in wellbeing, and 60% saying their health had improved.


“I had a breakdown in September time last year, you know, and the team were brilliant, all the women that I was going to the group with were fantastic, you know, and I think without all the support I actually had, not only from [the service], but also from the women who I’d met from going there, I don’t know if I’d actually even still be here now.”



“It’s like when you go into it, and you’ve got an empty toolbox, you come out of it, it’s chock-a-block full. And you know, you’ve got the tools and the information and the knowledge that you can do this.”



We are establishing survivor forums to sustain these changes locally and, with our expert delivery partners, exploring how we can extend this work in the Beacon areas and roll out on a wider scale across the UK.

Whole Lives Scotland  


Tech v Abuse


We were delighted to partner with Vodafone, Barnardo’s and the British Red Cross on the Great British Tech Appeal. Since its launch in May 2020’, the scheme has provided new and preloved mobiles with unlimited data to survivors via specialist domestic abuse services. To date, more than 500 phones have been distributed, with life changing impacts for many.  


'I can't understand people on the phone very well, my autism means I think they're not listening or can't understand me. Now I can video call my advocacy worker who listens to me and I know they understand me because I can see them'.



“I have been using the phone all day today to call police and insurance, it’s been a life saver”



“The Great British Tech Appeal is a fantastic example of how something as simple as a mobile phone and connectivity can be life-changing. Covid-19 and lockdown put those experiencing domestic abuse at even greater risk of harm, so it was important to us to try and help, even in a small way. With SafeLives, we’ve been able to provide hundreds of survivors with a phone and six months connectivity, giving them more independence, and in some cases, a lifeline. We are so grateful for all SafeLives have done to reach those most in need. Thanks for being a great partner!”

Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK


Thanks to funding from Comic Relief, we recruited a Digital Lead for six months, who worked with frontline practitioners to help them support victims and survivors experiencing tech-related abuse and to train up our staff team to increase our understanding of digital survivor safety. Digital agency Content Design worked with us pro bono to develop new approaches to online help seeking and we continued to celebrate the great digital work on survivor support and recovery which Chayn leads. 



We are proud to have been awarded ‘Trusted Partner’ status with NHS England and Improvement and have worked closely with their Head of Safeguarding to influence the development of NHS England’s response to domestic abuse.


We have been a partner on the Health Pathfinder project, with Standing Together, IRISi, Imkaan and Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) to support health professionals respond effectively to survivors.


Since 2017, the project has engaged nine Clinical Commissioning Groups and 17 NHS Trusts across England to implement wide-ranging and sustainable interventions in eight local areas and together we launched the resulting Pathfinder Toolkit in spring 2020, with clear and practical advice for frontline professionals and strategic leads. Data from the pilots suggests there is still much more to do for women facing additional barriers related to protected characteristics, particularly with regards to race, sexuality and age. The project has also flagged the very significant amount of work to do within the Health Service in terms of accepting that domestic abuse is a public health issue and needs the leadership, evidence-collection, analysis and investment that goes with that. Nadine Dorries, Minister of State for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety described the Pathfinder project as ‘a roadmap for a whole health response to abuse’.


A full evaluation, completed independently by Cardiff University, will be released later this year, and we will keep pursuing our goal of fully involved health professionals through our new Whole Health for London project, supported by the City Bridge Trust and starting in autumn 2020.



We train and champion professionals across the UK to help them spot the signs of domestic abuse and understand the tactics used by perpetrators.

Quality assurance - championing frontline domestic abuse professionals


In 2019/20, we delivered accredited training to 377 professionals in the domestic abuse sector. We received funding from the Welsh Government to run four Idva courses for frontline domestic abuse professionals and two service manager courses, as well as training on domestic abuse and older people, and domestic abuse and LGBT victims.


Eight services received our Leading Lights quality accreditation – bringing the total number to over 50 services across the UK. Our Leading Lights services meet the highest standards of provision and service delivery. During the pandemic, we have worked more closely than ever with these services, holding weekly calls with their CEOs to share insight, practice and staff and survivor experience of the impact of Covid-19. As we go forward, we want to increase the number of accredited services and ensure we are reaching and supporting smaller, specialist ‘by and for’ services effectively.


“The programme highlighted where we were not being consistent enough to ensure parity for all clients. It also highlighted that we were not always using our recording system to capture all the excellent work that our frontline staff are doing with clients. We now have a rolling programme of training and a more robust recruitment, selection, induction and support system for staff.”

Leading Lights services manager


We continue to learn from all frontline services and are keen to acknowledge areas for our own improvement. This year we were called out by Sistah Space, a specialist support for African/Caribbean heritage women and girls affected by domestic abuse, for needing to improve the content in our training materials with regards to women of Black African and Caribbean heritage. We are now working with them to implement changes and improvements. 


One way we celebrate the dedicated work of domestic abuse professionals is ‘Star of the Month’, where each month we showcase the life-saving work given to victims and survivors by individuals. Thank you to everyone who plays their part in ending domestic abuse.

Supporting professionals and others across the UK to identify abusive behaviours and increase the safety of those at risk


2019/20 was our biggest training year ever, with nearly 13,500 voluntary, public and business sector professionals trained.


We are growing our Responding Well training programme for public sector agencies, so that every victim of domestic abuse can get the response they need – no matter who they disclose to. Nearly 550 frontline professionals from children’s social care completed our Responding Well: Whole Picture training supported by the Home Office. After training:


  • 91% of respondents felt they understood how living with fear impacts the decisions of victims and what can be done to increase their space for action, compared to a third (35%) beforehand

  • 92% felt they had a good understanding of the tactics perpetrators of domestic abuse use to keep their victim(s) within a relationship and prevent them from leaving


The pilots have provided strong evidence of the benefits of taking a whole family approach and have shown that a cultural change programme can build social workers’ knowledge and confidence. We are now adapting the programme in line with the evaluation findings and would love to see the next iteration adopted more widely.


The impact and success of our training is recognised widely. This year, we met with an Australian delegation including The Hon. Gayle Tierney MP, Victoria Minister for Skills and Training and Higher Education, to discuss our training model, and the cultural change programmes we are delivering to frontline service professionals. We are also supporting Australian colleagues to lobby for their own coercive control legislation.



Supporting commercial organisations to increase their understanding of domestic abuse


An increasing number of companies are reaching out to us for support. We are helping them develop their own domestic abuse policies and train managers and staff to spot potential signs of abuse amongst employees and customers – an opportunity to make a huge practical impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Working with companies such as NatWest, Aviva, Linklaters, HSBC and Lloyds Bank, we are reaching potentially more than 320,000 employees.


We are delighted that our relationship with NatWest, which began through a joint training programme on economic abuse with Surviving Economic Abuse, has led to a £1m donation to provide small grants to survivors of such abuse over the next three years to help them on the route to recovery. We are co-creating the programme with survivors and services right now and are trialling the scheme in autumn 2020.


“SafeLives’ advice and support has been invaluable in shaping and informing the way we help customers affected by financial abuse. At NatWest we have millions of conversations with customers each year and by working with SafeLives we’ve been able to strengthen our support for survivors. Working together has been essential during the pandemic and I’m hugely proud of the fund we’ve launched together, providing grants to people and families affected by abuse in order to help them regain financial confidence and control. Our partnership with SafeLives is influencing thinking right across the bank and we’re determined to play our part in helping to end domestic abuse, for good.” 

Marcelino Castrillo, MD Customer Engagement & Distribution, NatWest


Covid-19 has presented serious challenges to the safety and wellbeing of families. Our Staying Safe at Home project quickly identified the increased risks and responded to multiple services across the UK who were contacting us seeking advice and support on how they could continue to operate safely and protect the whole family. In Scotland, we were invited by the Scottish Government to support their response, via our Safe at Home in Scotland project.


We have focused on three priorities - keeping individuals and families safe during increased isolation, supporting staff and frontline practitioners, and ensuring the sustainability of specialist domestic abuse services.


Our four key messages have been: 


  • For victims and survivors: ‘You are not alone’ – adopted as the national message by the Home Office.

  • For friends, family, neighbours and the community: ‘Domestic abuse is everyone’s problem’. 

  • For perpetrators: ‘There is no excuse for abuse’ – in tandem with Respect, one of our Drive partners. 

  • For everyone: ‘Reach In’ – our campaign to encourage everyone to check in on those who may not be able to reach out for support.

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Our Staying Safe at Home and Safe at Home in Scotland taskforces have continued our mission to end domestic abuse, by supporting families and frontline services during the pandemic.

Covid-19 Response: 

Staying Safe

at Home 


Uniting the sector and sharing expertise


We have supported effective multi-agency working with partners across the UK and immediately set up weekly CEO calls with our accredited Leading Lights services, to provide a vital touchpoint with frontline and survivor experience, as well as serving the growing membership of the SafeLives Community, which has almost doubled to over 2,300 members.


This collective insight has allowed us to work at speed to develop Covid-related advisory materials on a huge range of issues from child safeguarding to working with perpetrators. These have been highly valued by frontline staff and services: our new survivor materials have been downloaded almost 7,000 times, specialist guidance 2,500 times, and podcasts listened to nearly 8,000 times. Our website traffic increased by almost 50% between February and June 2020.


We have actively contributed our advice and expertise to a huge range of UK-wide networks, and have been in regular contact with the UK and Scottish Governments to share a clear picture of what’s happening on the ground and to make the case for emergency funding.

“Meeting virtually once a week to support frontline services throughout lockdown has been my highlight this year. We were able to give services regular updates on the Government’s response to domestic abuse during the crisis and give them a way to feel connected, share challenges and ideas and problem solve together through such a difficult time. We came away from every call feeling re-motivated by their amazing work and commitment.”

Gemma Charnock, Senior Project Manager, SafeLives


Hearing the voices of survivors and frontline services 


At the start of lockdown, we set up rolling surveys to hear directly from survivors and frontline services about the challenges they were facing and the support they needed.


What survivors told us: 

  • Almost two thirds of respondents (61%) had not asked for help since Covid-19 restrictions, most commonly because they were finding it difficult to reach out for support as a result of lockdown restrictions or feeling let down previously by professionals.

  • The most common response to concerns around safety, was a fear of the perpetrator (39%).

  • Almost one in ten respondents who were concerned about their own safety said they couldn’t escape or were in isolation. 

  • 76% also had concerns about their mental health, 56% had concerns around finances and 52% feared for the safety of their children. 


“I’m currently 26 weeks pregnant, stuck in a bedsit with my ex partner. I have no money, or no where [sic] to go. I cannot call a helpline for support as my partner will be able to hear me, plus I have telephone anxiety.”

Survivor, March 2020

“My partner’s temper and stress has increased a lot since the lockdown and I’m the only thing he can take it out on at the moment, he can’t let his stress out in usual ways.”

Survivor, April 2020

“Psychologically [sic] feel unsafe, being coercively controlled by ex-husband as he has my daughter. Using the Covid-19 situation to further control and making it difficult as I am in the vulnerable category too…I am powerless and have no one to help me.”

Survivor, March 2020

“He is like a time bomb he is verbally abusive daily making false accusations about me I know he is bubbling to commit another assault to me.”

Survivor, 2020


What specialist domestic abuse services told us: 

  • Over one third have seen an increase in caseloads. The majority of those (83%) said this was due to an increase in numbers of clients being referred and 29% said that it was because of staff absence meaning that other workers have to take on additional cases. 

  • Over one in ten (13%) said they have unsafe staffing levels at present. Over a third of those (38%) said that this would affect their ability to deliver a safe service. 


“We are in desperate need of laptops and decent phones…our software is old, and our remote email is poor.”
“In lockdown it is difficult to make contact with clients – I am concerned victims aren’t able to call during this period.”
“We believe that we will see a massive increase after lockdown as people are struggling to access us at the moment – we have seen a 50% increase in traffic to our website so we know people want support.”



Influencing change


Working together and informed by the survey findings, we have championed the needs of survivors and services: 


  • Making the case for an emergency domestic abuse service fund, alongside sector partners, which led to the Government committing £28m for domestic abuse and sexual violence services.

  • Developing guidance on behalf of NHS England in partnership with IRISi to enable health professionals to safely contact patients by phone or online. 

  • Securing Government commitment to the development of a new codeword scheme, this will be rolled out to pharmacies soon. .

  • Securing key worker status for domestic abuse workers as part of our early discussions with the Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

  • Supporting a frontline Idva and our Pioneer, Natasha, to give evidence at the PM’s Hidden Harms Summit which led the Lord Chancellor changing court listings so that all specialist services supporting victims at court can access them.

  • Ensuring the Department for Education understood the pressures facing vulnerable children, with early evidence from frontline providers that schools could be a safe place to deliver work with children and young people. 

  • Feeding in the voices of frontline staff and survivors as part of regular Covid-19 calls hosted by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and the Ministry of Justice through its Silver Command group.

  • Conducting risk assessments for reopening community-based services. 

  • Working closely with Stay Safe East and Shared Lives to secure MHCLG funding which will support disabled women with housing needs during Covid-19. 

  • Providing training to the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to help them better understand gender-based violence, and specifically to explore the increase in these crimes under Covid-19 related lockdown measures. 


“During the summit, you highlighted the important work of Independent Domestic Violence Advisers on their ability to offer support that is tailored to the needs of victims. We are determined to make this into a reality, so we will be looking at how to encourage better collaboration between Independent Domestic Violence Advisers and Independent Sexual Violence Advisers. We will also increase the availability of services through more sustainable funding for the sector.”

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, Prime Minister

One of the most pressing issues for frontline specialist services was a practical one – they couldn’t access enough basic equipment for their staff to work from home. We were delighted to secure £20,000 to make sure nearly 20 of the smallest Leading Lights services could buy smartphones and laptops for their staff and we worked with digital partners through the Catalyst to identify and share digital support for services.  


“This is amazing and will be an enormous help and thank you to the funder. We had to buy three laptops and several phones at the beginning of lockdown so that the staff could work from home. The helpline which the Idvas are continuing to answer is being done remotely and they all need phone and laptops to continue to provide our much needed service.”

MK Act Domestic Abuse Intervention Service


We have worked hard over the summer to contribute to and influence the Spending Review and will continue to press Governments and other major funders for sustainable funding for services.

"You are not alone"





Support people to live the life they want after harm occurs  


The voices of our Pioneers and survivors are at the heart of all we do.


We firmly believe there is no ‘them and us’. 


Only us.

We are immensely proud of our internal and external Pioneers – survivors and experts by experience, who work with us to ensure survivor voice is at the heart of all we do. In the last year we have welcomed four new Pioneers. We also have a Pioneer on our board of Trustees – as well as a number of other Trustees who use their personal experiences in their role. During the last twelve months, Pioneers have co-created, offered expertise, or lent their voices to virtually all our projects

Together, we are starting a movement; challenging preconceptions about what a ‘victim’ or a ‘survivor’ is, connecting people with lived experience of domestic abuse and inspiring people to know that you don’t need to be defined by your experience.


‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring your own folding chair. SafeLives is my folding chair.’ 



Our 2020 Valentine’s campaign built on our #ImASurvivor campaign and celebrated all the things that our Pioneers and survivors love about themselves. 

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We also launched our Voices Together newsletter – written by, with and for people with lived experience of domestic abuse, and already have over 300 subscribers. We were proud to work with the Joanna Simpson Foundation and Diana Parkes, Patron and Joanna’s mother, to support their work in influencing the understanding of children’s experiences.




Working with our Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall


Eleven Pioneers and survivors attended our 15th anniversary birthday celebration in February 2020, which the Duchess generously hosted for us at Clarence House, and together brought much needed public focus to domestic abuse, through interviews with Hello magazine and the front cover of The Daily Mail.


Pioneers Celia Peachey and Naomi Donald also joined the Duchess at the Women of the World event, to mark International Women’s Day, where they supported calls to make domestic abuse



“The Duchess of Cornwall is the perfect patron for SafeLives because she genuinely cares, she knows domestic abuse is everyone’s problem and knows no class. Together, we will erase the stigma and open up a much needed dialogue for real change to happen, and make homes safe again. I’m deeply heartened by her joining us in this vital mission to end domestic abuse for everyone, once and for all.”

Celia Peachey, SafeLives Pioneer, talking about HRH The Duchess of Cornwall becoming SafeLives Patron



Supported by our Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, and instigated by our Pioneers, our #ReachIn campaign launched in April to encourage everyone to take an active role to reach in and check on friends and family members – particularly during Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. In the first two months, our #ReachIn webpage had almost 1,800 page views, and our Pioneers were quoted in YOU magazine, The Daily Mail, and the New Statesman, reminding everyone of the important role we can all play in looking out for each other.  











Influencing change 


Pioneers have used their voices to influence change on many occasions this year. They were invited to brief the ‘Public Sector Top 100’ leaders, including Chiefs of Defence Staff, local authority chief executives and Permanent Secretaries at three sessions. These were consistently rated the best of any of the week-long programmes provided by Cabinet Office, and we have been invited to repeat our input in 2020/21. 


Authentic voice weaves through all our external engagement. Many of the survivors who have got in touch with us have never had any support, and many of the young people have never before been asked for their views. Extensive media coverage has also brought their stories and voices to the wider public.


This year we have worked closely with Surviving Economic Abuse, sharing expertise and looking at what we can learn by joining up our survivor networks, work we hope to continue in the coming year. And our Pioneers have also helped us build a strong relationship with Cafcass, sharing the voices of those with lived experience, to demonstrate the impact that the family court system can have in terms of survivors being able to move on safely and live a life free from fear. We are looking forward to working with Cafcass more in the coming year.

“My best moment was when working with a survivor on her local input to the DA Matters programme in her force, she sent me her finished audio clip of her explaining to officers and staff how much she rated the police and wanted to help them do better.  She went on to advise them exactly what they could do differently to offer the best service to victims like herself.  She was so dignified, articulate and motivating even though the police had seemingly failed her many times over.  That humility made me so proud to be giving her a voice.”

Melani Morgan, Programme Lead for DA Matters, SafeLives

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SafeLives continues to be

an effective and sustainable organisation   



Our goal is to end domestic abuse for everyone and for good.


We work with a fantastic team of staff, associates, Trustees and Pioneers to secure our Whole Picture strategy, delivering what you would want for your best friend. 

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Equity, equality, diversity and inclusion


At SafeLives, we hold the privilege of being listened to. We want to acknowledge that, and change the dynamics of the way we listen, reflect and act on what we hear and what we learn, increasing the extent to which we share or make space for individuals and organisations with specialist expertise, but also becoming more representative ourselves of the full range of communities we aim to serve.


In the last year, we have held conversations as an organisation about structural racism, equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. As we ended our reporting year 2019/20, our team challenged us to go further, faster, and with more visibility, structure and leadership. We published our equity, equality, diversity and inclusion action plan on 1st July 2020 to signal our intent to live up to this, and will regularly report publicly on our progress. Though the plan is presented here, this work runs through all parts of who we are as an organisation in terms of the members and experiences of our teams, the survivors whose voices we try to amplify, and the frontline practitioners for whom so much of our work is created.



Staffing and partnerships


Our staff team are talented, passionate and committed. Each new starter receives domestic abuse awareness training, and we also run leadership training for all managers, as well as delivering learning and development on communications, project management, equality and diversity, mental health first aid and economic abuse. 


The last few months have seen us place even greater focus on supporting our staff through the coronavirus crisis. We have quickly mobilised to home working, making greater use of digital platforms to stay connected with each other. We are continuing to monitor the situation and are working closely with the team to ensure everyone feels supported and safe. We are proud to work with a fantastic team of associates who help extend our work and impact. A huge thanks to everyone for their hard work this year. 


We continue to work across the UK. Our team in Scotland are going from strength to strength, building new relationships and exploring exciting new areas of work. We have a formal Practice Lead for Wales and hope to soon be working in partnership with key colleagues on new programmes. At the moment we don’t have capacity to work in Northern Ireland, but we continue to provide advice and assistance where we can and doing more remains an aspiration. 


Our Trustees continue to have overall responsibility for the management of the charity and guide us with their wide experience from a range of fields. As well as our formal Trustees, we have grown our Scottish Advisory Group, and are extremely appreciative of their time and input. 


Our partnerships continue to develop and we are growing our strategic intent to be an ally to other organisations, including the smallest and most specialist. We still have work to do in this area and are particularly keen to grow our relationships with mental health organisations and serious violence leads in the coming year. 


We are always eager to bring together sector colleagues and were delighted to be part of the first ‘Netball to End Abuse’ match earlier this year! The match brought together colleagues from SafeLives alongside Standing Together Against Domestic Violence, Social Finance and UK Says No More.

How we are funded 


In our financial year, ending on 30th June 2020, our income was just over £7m. This includes almost £1.7m which we paid directly to partners involved in our projects; £1m from NatWest which will be used to provide small grants to survivors of economic abuse over the next three years to help them on the route to recovery; and £545,000 from Covid-19 philanthropic donations.

We work hard to generate a mix of income:  


  • 37.6% from fee earning work

  • 27.7% from statutory funding

  • 34.7% from charitable trusts, foundations and individual donors


















How we used it 


Our expenditure in the last year was £4.4m, excluding payments to the partners who collaborate with us on our work.


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Where we work

Our supporters


We would like to send a special thanks to each and every person who has supported us over 2019/20, with individual donations, challenge events, fundraising events, volunteering and through lending their experience in lots of different ways.  


A huge thank you to England footballer Danny Rose, who not only donated to both us and Chayn, but also used his profile to raise awareness of domestic abuse, and to ask the wider public to check in on neighbours and friends – during the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and beyond. We are extremely grateful to Danny for his support.

Samantha Smith is one of our champion Covid-19 fundraisers, raising money for SafeLives, as well as two other charities, by dying her hair all the colours of the rainbow! Samantha created the hashtag #RainbowHairtoShowWeCare “…so those who may see a rainbow here and there in our hair will know we support them and they are not alone. We care.” You certainly put a smile on our face during this very difficult time, Samantha.


In April 2020, the amazing Bristol Show Choir gave a very special online performance of “You Will Be Found” from the musical Dear Evan Hansen, to raise money to keep people safe from domestic abuse. We were so touched by their performance and that they chose to support SafeLives.

Due to the lockdown, Cambridge law firm Mills & Reeve completed their annual Charity Challenge virtually this year, raising an astonishing £9,000 for SafeLives! The firm was split into rival teams to win “virtual kilometres” by completing a number of different activities. This included walking, running, cycling, and solving crosswords and puzzles. The winning team was the first to virtually cover the distance between all six of the Mills & Reeve offices first. We have been so inspired by people’s creativity in thinking up different ways to get active and raise money. 


A huge thank you

to everyone who has supported SafeLives’ work this year.



We cannot end domestic abuse alone. Through the support of trusts and foundations, corporates, Governments and individual givers we have been able to help thousands of families affected by domestic abuse, saving lives and helping people to live the lives they want in safety.


Archer’s Mark


Aurum Trust 

Charles Russell Speechlys Foundation 

Childwick Trust

CHK Charities

City Bridge Trust, the funding arm of The City of London Corporation’s charity, Bridge House Estates

Content Design

Comic Relief

Danny Rose

Dulverton Trust

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

FleishmannHillard Fishburn

Garfield Weston Foundation

Mark Green & Margaret Green 

Home Office

John Ellerman Foundation

Rupal Sachdev Kantaria, Jiten, Siya and Shivam Kantaria  

Hatty Kingsley Miller, Anna & Hilary Kingsley 

Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales

Lloyds Banking Group

London Community Response Fund

Mills & Reeve Charitable Trust


National Lottery Community Fund

National Lottery Community Fund Scotland


Oak Foundation


Peter Cundill Foundation

Private family foundation managed by Greenwood Place

Queen Anne's Gate Foundation

The Julia and Hans Rausing Trust

The Catalyst

Rothesay Life Foundation

Sharon Studer & Graham Beckett 

Scottish Government

The Segelman Trust

The Tudor Trust


Kate Wilkinson and Harry Gaskell

Mr. W. Randall Work and Mrs. Jeanne M. Work


If you would like to support our work please get in touch:




Thank you for all your support.


Closing remarks from Isabel Boyer,

our Chair of Trustees




This has been an extraordinary year in so many ways. Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are proud of our progress to embed our strategy ‘The Whole Picture’ in everything we do. Everyone pulled together to make this possible, and I pay tribute to all the SafeLives family – staff, associates, Pioneers and Trustees – as well as to all our funders and partners.


I particularly welcome our focus on developing our first two strategic priorities around prevention and early intervention to interrupt cycles of abuse. We want to stop abuse before it starts. We have pushed forward with our men and boys work and ‘Safe Young Lives’, our work with children and young people.  And we are delivering proven impact on challenging perpetrators and increasing safety for families, as seen in the final year pilot evaluation of Drive. 


We strive to demonstrate our real commitment to using data from research, the voices of survivors and frontline practice expertise to push for change. Our Pioneers have been getting their voices heard at the very highest levels, including directly to the Prime Minister. We were able to listen to and support domestic abuse professionals when lockdown hit and report our findings about the challenges faced by services in supporting families, with 38% reporting an increase in caseloads as part of the case for emergency funding. 


A highlight of the year has been welcoming our new Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, whose support we are honoured to have. We have also heard increasing support from right across society and been moved by many of the people who reach out and #ReachIn to us with their stories.


Lockdown has brought new challenges for many and it is horrifying to hear directly from survivors about how their risks have increased. Reports of many tragedies and frightening circumstances have greatly increased public awareness of domestic abuse and its impacts on the lives of adult and child victims. This gives us a huge opportunity to work with statutory, voluntary and civil society partners to influence policy and practice to drive better and more effective responses.


I am so pleased to see the reach of our partnerships and increasing collaboration within the domestic abuse sector and beyond – we can do nothing alone. 


We will continue to work with everyone who can play a part in ending domestic abuse, from local authorities and Police and Crime Commissioners, to frontline children’s social care workers and police, as well as companies such as NatWest and Vodafone.  The broadening of our work towards a Whole Picture approach gives me great hope for our mission to end domestic abuse. Do join us on that journey. 


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© SafeLives 2020