'Safe haven' opens in Exeter city centre to tackle violence against women and girls

People will be able to find respite at the safe space three nights a week and can use it to charge their phones Credit: Exeter City Council

A dedicated space designed to help keep people safe at night has opened in Devon.

The Exeter Safe Space is based in the city centre and has been created after an Exeter University survey found many women do not feel safe at night.

The site is located in St Stephen’s Church on High Street and will be open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights between 11pm and 3.30am.

It will offer people access to light medical treatment for things like cuts, sprains, blisters as well as a warm and safe place to wait for transport home.

Organisers behind the scheme also say the safe space will provide 'welfare support', as well as facilities to charge phones.

Exeter Safe Space will provide people with supplies, including safety alarms and water Credit: Exeter City Council

'It will make women feel safer in the city centre at night'

Cllr Laura Wright, Exeter City Council’s deputy leader and a member of the Community Safety Partnership, has called the service a "fantastic initiative" and has said it is in a "perfect central location".

She added: "The Safe Space is staffed by a dedicated team who can offer assistance to those who are on a night out and who may require it.

“In particular, it provides women with a safe place to wait for transport home and to access to any assistance that they may need.

I think it will make women feel safer in the city centre at night knowing the facility is there, and I want to congratulate everyone involved in the project for helping to set it up and resource it.”

The site is one of several projects being funded by the Safer Streets Fund 4 bid led by Exeter University, which saw around £680,000 awarded to help tackle violence against women and girls, and reduce anti-social behaviour at night.

The Safe Space was first envisioned by Mat Jarratt, Chair of Best Bar None, and Ann Hunter, InExeter BID Manager.

Ann said it meant anyone who may need support would be able to access a space offering a warm welcome.

She added that a volunteer programme is being launched in January, for anyone who would like to support the project.

Mat Jarratt said: “The Exeter Safe Space is a significant step-up in caring for those that may find themselves vulnerable on an evening out.

"Best Bar None look forward to supporting the Exeter Safe Space continued development and thank InExeter for leading the way on this very important project.”

Those behind the scheme say Exeter Safe Space will work closely with agencies and partners such as Exeter Street Pastors, the Police, Exeter Business Against Crime, Best Bar None, the LVA and other to deliver the service.