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16 Days of Activism Blog – Why Refuge Matters

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Since 1974, Women’s Aid Federation of England has brought together a national network of specialist refuges for women and their children who are experiencing violence and fear. Since 2010, 17% of specialist refuges in England have closed and on a typical day 155 women and 103 children will have to be turned away from a refuge as their is no space for them. Women’s Aid state that specialist women’s refuges matters because:

“Specialist domestic violence refuges have supported hundreds of thousands of women and children who are fleeing domestic violence and kept them safe. They are literally life-saving services which provide safety and sanctuary and are established specifically to meet the needs of the women and children that need refuge.”

Ranjit, our Refuge Manager shares an insight into a referral for our much needed refuge space.

First thing I receive a high risk emergency referral from the police for a woman and her two children who had been attacked in public by her partner who had left her unconscious. Before the family arrives, I work with our Facilities Manager to get their bedroom ready, with clean towels and toiletries from our donations and put up a cot. I get the induction paperwork ready and start a referral to the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) due to the high risk nature of the abuse.

The family arrive with just a small bag and some paperwork, all that she was able to get together before the police brought her to the refuge.  There is a lot to do but first things first, take the children to the play room so that they can play and get mum a nice cup of tea. Whilst the children are being looked after in the creche, I run through the health and safety induction and complete some initial safety planning with mum. This includes providing advice on how to use technology such as her phone safely as someone can be easily traced through smart phones and tablets. I then show the woman to her room to let her settle in whilst I go and pick up some essential food and clothes using our supermarket vouchers which we buy from our fundraising.

Whilst the family settle in, I contact the family’s allocated social worker to arrange for them to visit the family and I introduce the woman to her allocated support practitioner for her time in refuge. I also introduce the family to our Children and Young People’s Manager so she can explain the services that the family can access whilst living in refuge.

Whilst I am in the office we receive a call for a woman who needs refuge space but unfortunately all our bed spaces are now full. I complete a DASH risk assessment with the woman and look up other refuge space on the UK Refuges Online database and make a referral to another refuge with space.

Before leaving I check in with our new family, mum is feeling down and overwhelmed by what has happened. We sit down and talk through her concerns, focusing on her strengths and explain how she will be supported by us. I log this discussion on our case management system so that the family’s support practitioner is aware.

To find out more about Women’s Aid SOS: Save Refuges, Save Lives here https://www.womensaid.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigning-and-influencing/campaign-with-us/sos/

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