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Help us save refuges, save lives

Our world leading national network of refuges is facing an urgent crisis. Across England, more and more specialist refuges are experiencing massive funding cuts and being closed down. This crisis will cost lives.


SOS women and children turned away


We risk losing this life-saving network of services if we do not act now.

We are calling on the government to Save Our Services by committing to preserving the national network of specialist refuges by exploring a new model of national refuge funding and commissioning.

What can I do?


1) Join us at our SOS candle-lit vigil.

2) Tell David Cameron why we need to save refuges, save lives

 3) Sign our Petition

4) Send your SOS signal

Download our template and write a word or phrase that explains why you think we should protect refuges. Then tweet us a picture! 

 5) Tweet your support

"I support the @womensaid #saverefugessavelives campaign https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/SOS"


6) Tweet your MP

"Help @womensaid #saverefugessavelives by showing your support for the SOS campaign www.womensaid.org.uk/sos can we count on you?"


7) Write to your MP

You can use this letter as a start, but please personalise explaining why you are supporting this campaigning. 



Join us for a candle-lit Vigil at Downing Street 

We are inviting Women’s Aid SOS campaign supporters to come and join us at our Downing Street candle-lit SOS vigil from 6pm – 7pm on Thursday 20 November. Alongside the vigil members of the Women’s Aid team will be delivering the SOS petition to No.10 Downing Street with a firm ask for the Government to make a public commitment to protecting our network of refuges before the end of the 16 Days of Activism on 10 December.

The aim of the vigil is to provide an opportunity for SOS campaign supporters to come together to stand in solidarity with women living in refuges and the staff and services that support them. 

We will be gathering at Downing Street from 5.50pm. Please note there will be media photographers and Camera Crews from national news stations present and filming/photographing. 

Are you a survivor of domestic violence who has stayed in a refuge or a refuge worker?

Can you help us with a very exciting SOS campaign related activity from 17 – 21 November?

Let’s tell David Cameron why refuges are so important. We want the Prime Minister to understand why it is so important that the Government commits to protecting our national network of specialist refuges. The best way to deliver this message is through the voices of survivors and support workers.

Are you a survivor of domestic violence who has stayed in a refuge? Do you work in a refuge and want to make sure that the Government keep your refuge safe from funding cuts? Please put 5 minutes in your diary to write a short message to David Cameron telling him why a refuge was or is important to you.

As part of the SOS campaign during the week beginning 17 November we are asking survivors of domestic violence and support workers to write to the Prime Minister explaining why he should support the Women’s Aid SOS Save Refuges, Save Lives campaign. We want the Government to commit to preserving our national network of specialist refuges during the 16 Days of Action which commences on Tuesday 25 November and ends on Wednesday 10 December.

To ensure that the Government know the messages are all coming from SOS campaign supporters we are requesting that everyone uses the same message subject line with the name and location personalised to you, for example: 

‘why I support the Women’s Aid SOS campaign, my story -Sian Hawkins, London’

To send this message you can use this online form: https://email.number10.gov.uk/

What you say in the message is up to you, but we would like people to share their personal views and experiences where possible. You don’t have to use your real name. We want the Prime Minister to understand the value of our refuges and how they touch people’s lives.

Please let us know if you send a message and, of course, if you get a response. 

What is happening to specialist refuges across England?

SOS specialist servicesSpecialist refuges are services which are designed to meet the needs specifically of women domestic violence survivors and their children. The specialist and woman-only nature of services ensures that women and children feel safe, secure and supported and removes any barriers to them finding a safe place when they are escaping domestic violence. Specialist refuges help women and children escape, cope and rebuild their lives after domestic violence.

Being in a refuge might be the first safe space that children and young people may have had in a long time. Specialist provision for children and young people from refuge staff is vital as it allows them to have their health and educational needs addressed individually. Children and young people can also explore the impact of the abuse they have experienced in an understanding environment, which can minimise long term negative cognitive, behavioural and emotional effects, enabling them to reach their potential. To find out more about what a refuge is like inside take a tour around our Virtual Refuge on The Hideout website.

Our national network of specialist domestic violence refuges is in crisis like never before:

• Between 2010 and 2014 (July) the number of specialist refuge services decreased from 187 to 155.

• In England, according to Council of Europe recommendations, there is a shortfall of 1,727 refuge bedspaces (32%).

• In one day in 2013, 155 women and their 103 children were turned away from refuge because they could not be accommodated.

•  48% of 167 domestic violence services in England said that they were running services without funding. Six refuge services were being run without dedicated funding and using up their reserves to keep their services going.

• Between April and July 2014, ten specialist domestic violence services across England lost funding for services they were providing. All but one of these nine services lost their services to a non-specialist service provider.

• Our world leading national network of refuges is facing an urgent crisis. Please help us Save Our Services.


Your SOS Signals