Living in a refuge

Living in a refuge

What to expect

A refuge is not an institution – it is a house where women and children who have experienced domestic violence can live in safety. We make every effort to keep refuge addresses secret. Male visitors are not allowed.

It can be difficult leaving your home and adjusting to life in a new environment. But the other women in the refuge understand what you’ve been through – you may find their support invaluable. Our refuge staff are on hand to help you settle in and give you the support you need to start thinking about the future.


What will my room be like?

There is no one type of refuge – they are all different. Some have self-contained flats, whilst others provide private rooms for you and your children with other areas (living room, kitchen, bathrooms) shared. You can cook meals for yourself and your children, or share the cooking with other women.

You have the freedom to come and go as you please – the refuge is your home for as long as you need to stay there.


I have arrived with nothing

Often women arrive at the refuges with very few possessions. We will provide you with basic supplies such as food, nappies and toiletries. Our refuge staff will help you to secure welfare benefits so that you can live independently.


Who will help me find my feet?

All refuges have trained staff who are there to help you settle in and apply for welfare benefits. They can also support you with a range of other practical issues, such as registering with a local doctor or school, contacting solicitors, and dealing with immigration issues.

Staff are also there to support you emotionally. They understand what you have been through and will help you to make sense of what is going on. They will not judge you or tell you what to do. They want you to have the time and space to make your own decisions.

One worker will be your key worker. She will meet you weekly to make sure you are receiving the support you need. You can discuss any concerns or worries you may have with her.


How long can I stay?

You can stay in our refuges for as long as you need to find alternative accommodation or make arrangements. Some women stay for a few days, others stay for months whilst they wait for accommodation in a new community. A refuge gives you temporary accommodation while we help you find somewhere more permanent.


How do I get into a refuge?

The 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline will help you find a refuge space. The police, social services and other agencies can also put you in touch with us.