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Refuge

Our refuges across Yorkshire are for women and children fleeing domestic abuse.

You can come to refuge whether you are escaping a heterosexual or same sex relationship and whether you have children or not. If you won’t be safe in one of our refuges, we will find you a space in another part of the country. We can also accommodate women without recourse to public funds in our refuges.

How does it work?

Refuge is a safe house, with some communal living areas, for women and their children who are escaping domestic and sexual abuse and violence.

We welcome women and children into our refuges who have been subjected to any kind of domestic abuse, including emotional and psychological abuse, so called “honour- based” abuse or human trafficking.

We take referrals from individual and professionals and, if we cannot accommodate you in one of our own refuges, we can help you find refuge accommodation elsewhere. You may also wish to consider some of our other safe accommodation options.

Our refuges have fully accessible facilities for people with a range of disabilities. We can also provide things like hearing loops for people who are deaf and translation support for women who do not speak English. We want our accommodation to be as accessible and inclusive as possible and will work with you to meet your individual needs.

Refuge not only provides a safe roof over women and children’s heads, but also the specialist support that is needed at that difficult time. Our highly trained, female domestic abuse practitioners provide trauma informed support to help survivors and their children understand and recover from their abuse. They help families to build on their strengths and develop the resilience to live safe and happy lives, free from abuse.

Our refuges are affiliated to WAFE (Women’s Aid Federation of England) which means that we fully support the WAFE principle of an open-door policy, believing women’s accounts of their experiences rather than requiring independent proof or evidence of domestic abuse.

The effects of trauma

Once you are in a safe place you can begin to recover from the effects of the abuse you have been subjected to. Recovering from the trauma can take time and you may experience a range of symptoms, which might include extreme sadness or depression, anxiety, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), where you have flashbacks, nightmares, or physical symptoms such as trembling and sweating. The staff at refuge will help you to understand why you are experiencing these symptoms and will work with you to develop techniques to overcome them.

“My worker was such an inspiration. She pulled me out of the darkness and gave me light. I left the refuge a new person, feeling empowered, which led me to getting a work placement and on a Level 2 Adult Social Care course.”

Frequently asked questions

If you are in immediate danger, you should call 999. If you would like to plan to go to refuge, we can help you do so safely. You can call one of our helpline numbers: 03000 110 110 if you live in North Yorkshire / Barnsley or 0808 808 2241 if you are in Sheffield. You will be supported through the process by a trained practitioner. You can also call the National 24- hour Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247

If you are planning to leave your partner, we can help you to do so safely. When someone leaves their partner, this can put them at more risk, as the abusive partner may feel they are losing control and so may use more extreme measure to try and regain some control. You can call our helpline and our experienced practitioners will talk through things that you can do to help you leave more safely.

When you arrive, we will give you time and space to settle. We understand that leaving home can be traumatic for you and your children, so will work at a pace that feels comfortable for you. You will be shown your room and the other areas of the refuge, such as the kitchen and communal living areas. We will introduce you to other residents and the staff who are working that day. If you have had to leave suddenly and do not have basic things like food and toiletries, we will provide those for you. Soon after arriving, you will be asked to sign a license agreement, which explains some steps we need to take to keep everyone safe; for example, we ask that you do not tell anyone where the refuge is, and you do not have visitors to the refuge.

Each of our refuges are slightly different. Our refuge in York is purpose built and has 10 bedrooms, each of them different sizes. There are kitchen and laundry facilities that families share and a sitting room, playroom and large garden for families to enjoy. You can spend as little or as much time as you like mixing with the other residents and you can come and go as you wish. We ask that you let staff know if you are staying out overnight, that you show respect to the other residents and staff, and that you do not disclose the address of the refuge to anyone. You will have a dedicated key worker who will agree a plan of support with you and any children you bring will also have a dedicated children’s worker. We also have workers, who support you whilst in refuge to prepare for your resettlement and they will continue to see you if you move into a property in our area.

Our Harrogate refuge is a large house, set in beautiful grounds and has 8 rooms, including 2 self-contained flats, one of which is fully wheelchair accessible. There are also communal kitchens, playroom and living area.

The refuge in Northallerton is purpose built and has 14 self-contained units, with some communal space, and the Barnsley refuge can accommodate 8 families with each family having access to their own kitchen and bathroom.

We cannot store large items like furniture for you in refuge, so it is best to bring any personal items that you need, such as clothes, as well as any important documents like your passport.

Unfortunately, you cannot usually bring pets to refuge, and we understand that this can be very upsetting for families, however you may be able to take small pets into some of our other safe accommodation. We will do our best to help you find foster care for your animals whilst you are staying in refuge, but it is not always possible.

We are able accommodate dependent children up to the age of 18 (and possibly older if the child has a physical or learning disability). We do assess each family needs on a case-by-case basis taking into account the support needs of your children and the other women and families in the refuge at the time. Where we assess that refuge wouldn’t be the right space for you and your older teenage son(s) we have different types of safe accommodation in North and South Yorkshire which may be more suitable.

Our aim is to ensure that anyone fleeing from abuse is provided with the right support for them. We will talk with you, or the person referring you, about all your needs, including any drug or alcohol use. If we believe we can meet your needs, we will accommodate you in one of our refuges or discuss the option of moving into one of our self-contained dispersed units, but if we feel your support needs would be better met elsewhere, we will support you to access alternative accommodation where we can.

We will work with you to agree and provide the support you need for the time you need it. Some people stay in refuge for a few days, whilst others stay a few months or even a year. Our aim is always to help you have the confidence and the tools to live independently and this will be different for everyone. Your dedicated support worker will discuss your support needs with you throughout your stay in refuge.
In most cases yes. If you have been asked to leave the refuge because you have broken the license or tenancy agreement, then we may not take you back into the same refuge but would continue to support you in the community if you stay within our area. If you have moved to another area, we will refer you to the local domestic abuse agency. We try and support everyone to move on to more permanent accommodation safely, but also understand that some people return home. If you needed to leave again because you are fleeing abuse, we would help you access the same refuge if it were safe to do so or help you find alternative refuge accommodation.
Our refuge staff understand the trauma that people subjected to domestic abuse experience and that everyone’s needs will differ. They also understand that people have different cultural or religious needs and work with each woman and child to agree a plan of support based on these. They provide emotional support, as well as encourage you to make your own decisions in a safe environment to develop the skills and confidence to live independently. We help with practical issues like safety planning, legal processes and accessing healthcare or schools and we work closely with specialist partner agencies who can provide expert advice on things like welfare benefits and employment or training opportunities. There are also opportunities for you and your children to participate in culturally appropriate group and leisure activities.
We will try everything we can to help you feel welcome and comfortable. If you do not feel happy with the refuge, you can talk to your support worker, or another member of staff and they will try and resolve the issue. If this is not possible, they will then help you to move to another refuge in a different area, if this is what you choose to do.
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