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What is refuge?

Refuge is a calm and safe space where women can live free from fear. A welcoming, peaceful home in which you can begin to build a new life, a future free from domestic abuse.

“I will never forget my time in refuge for it was surely an education and a healing time too, since you all helped in such a positive way.”


Who can go into refuge?

Any woman, irrespective of sexual, religious, racial or ethnic identity, who needs to escape from domestic abuse can go into a refuge at any time. It does not matter whether or not you are living with your abuser, or whether or not you have children. (Male children must be aged 16 or under at the date of moving into the refuge.)

Life in refuge

Perhaps you have fears that refuge is a noisy shared house filled with women and children in crisis, making it hard to be private and quiet.

Nothing is further from the truth. At Border Women’s Aid, we have fully secure, self-contained 2-bedroom units, each with its own front door. Step inside and you’ll find fully furnished, freshly decorated homes, with well-equipped modern kitchens and laundry facilities, and a good selection of toys for the children.

Following-up on a suggestion from one of the residents, we now provide tablets so that women can access the technology they need to plan their future and to educate their children. And, yes, we do have wi-fi.

The only shared aspect is a back garden, landscaped with a play area, bedding plants and bulbs. We employ someone to keep it looking smart and tidy.

Support Services

We understand that you are likely to be feeling scared, lonely and anxious when you first arrive. In addition to safe accommodation, we provide a team of trained and dedicated workers offering a range of practical and emotional support focussed on your wellbeing and recovery. Ours is a person-centred approach, with all women being treated as individuals, thus empowering them to decide what is best for them and their children. Women who use the service are helped to build on their strengths, to acquire the information and develop the skills they need to determine their own futures. We will continue to support you up to a year after you have left the refuge.

BWA has helped hundreds of women to find better lives.

Any contact with us is strictly confidential.

What happens if I have no money to travel?

We will support you to travel to refuge if necessary.

House Rules

Ensuring your safety

We know that you will have escaped from a controlling environment and we don't want to impose a whole load of rules just when you have got your freedom back, but ... we know how determined abusers can be, so we take safety, privacy and confidentiality very seriously. That’s why we have house rules, which are in place to ensure your safety, comfort and peace of mind, and that of your children. For example, the occupants can come and go as they like, but no visitors are allowed, and the refuge address is confidential. Use of illegal drugs and the dangerous use of alcohol are strictly prohibited.

You will be asked to sign an occupancy agreement which will include the terms under which you can stay in the refuge, the rental charges, and our code of conduct.

When you leave

During your time in refuge, with the support of the Border Women’s Aid team, you will have taken back control of your life and so know when it is time to move on. But our support doesn’t end with you closing the door on the refuge for the last time. BWA will give you ongoing support via our Outreach Service, both practical and emotional, for up to a year after leaving refuge.

To learn more about our Outreach Service, visit this page.

Alternatives to refuge

What if I don’t want to stay in the refuge, do I have other options?

We would suggest registering with local landlords/housing associations or contacting Homelessness Services which can provide temporary accommodation if it’s available. Often we agree to support a woman alongside agencies like Homelessness Services. BWA can also provide outreach support. To learn more about our Outreach Service, visit our Outreach page.

Whatever your situation, Border Women’s Aid is here to help you out.

A lesson from history

In her Book of the City of Ladies, the medieval writer Christine de Pizan made a pitch for safe, women-only spaces, as follows: “Our wish is to ensure that, in future, all worthy ladies and valiant women are protected from those who have attacked them. The female sex has been left defenceless for a long time now, like an orchard without a wall. …. [This new city] will not only shelter you all but will also defend and protect you against your attackers and assailants, provided you look after it well.”

Five hundred years later, we are still fighting the same old battle to provide safe refuge for any woman who needs to escape domestic abuse. So, for however long you need it, our refuge is a place you can call home.

Hands keeping me safe and comfortable. Helping me to find joy. Thank you so much for the last 14 months

Having a safety plan in place has reduced my stress

Speaking to a support worker has made me feel safer in my home

I feel amazing, in control, a different person

A huge weight lifted off my shoulders when I contacted BWA

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