National domestic violence charity Refuge opens specialist service in Kingston

18 (R-D-0645)Monday 21 August 2017

Refuge, the country’s largest provider of specialist services for women experiencing domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence, has opened a new refuge service in the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames.

At any one time, the service can provide safe accommodation and specialist support to 15 women escaping domestic violence and their children, including five refuge spaces specifically tailored for South Asian women and children.

A refuge is much more than a roof over a woman or child’s head; Refuge-Kingston’s specialist staff will provide residents with the building blocks they need to begin a new life. They help women and children to overcome the physical and emotional impacts of what can be years of violence and abuse and offer individual, tailored support to suit their needs. This might include advice on housing, education, accessing benefits, employment, or immigration, or it might mean helping a woman to achieve better health and wellbeing. Children in the service will also benefit from an expert child support worker.

One of the biggest challenges women face when moving on from refuges is securing housing, particularly in London. This impacts on women’s ability to rebuild their lives following abuse. Therefore, Refuge-Kingston will offer a rent deposit scheme for women who face barriers in accessing housing in the social sector, which will enable them to secure homes once they have exited the service.

The refuge accommodation service in Kingston was previously delivered by Hestia. Refuge has now taken over the contract, beginning on July 1st 2017. The service is funded by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.

Chief executive of Refuge, Sandra Horley CBE, said: 

“Refuge is delighted to be providing a refuge service in Kingston. We are grateful to the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames for funding the service, and for its continued dedication to providing specialist, safe accommodation specifically. It is essential that women and children forced to flee violence have access to refuges. Those in danger will always need a safe place to turn. Thanks to the Council, Refuge can provide that safe place – together, we will save and change lives.”

195 (ES-0917)Councillor Hugh Scantlebury, portfolio holder for community safety and voluntary sector commissioning at Kingston Council, said:

“It is the council’s duty to support and protect people. Everyone has the right to live their life free from fear and violence and no one should feel trapped in a desperate situation out of concern for their future economic or social wellbeing.

“The council understands that survivors of domestic violence need more than just physical shelter; they also need the support and expertise that enables them to start over, and rebuild their lives.

“Refuge is a pioneer of this type of holistic support and we are delighted that they are bringing their services to the borough, which will build on the very solid foundation Hestia helped to develop.”

For more information, email press@refuge.org.uk or ring 0207 395 7731 (out of hours and weekend enquiries: 07970 894240)

Information on how to access the service:

The Refuge-Kingston service has been open since 1 July 2017. To access the service, phone 0300 7906 773 (general refuge service) or 0300 790 6774 (specialist refuge service for Asian women). Phone lines are staffed between the hours of 9am – 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. For support and information, access the Refuge website at www.refuge.org.uk.