Survivors of domestic abuse are being repeatedly turned away from refuges because they do not meet the criteria to fund their space. Women’s Aid has been working with these women and their children to make sure no woman is turned away.

This report shows that there is a systemic failure by statutory agencies when it comes to responding to the needs of the most vulnerable survivors of domestic abuse. While chronic underfunding is increasing pressure on already overstretched refuge providers, leading to a crisis in refuge provision for the women who most desperately need support.

Key findings

11% of survivors slept rough while searching for refuge, including seven women who had children with them and three women who were pregnant

Only one quarter of women seeking refuge were accommodated in a suitable refuge space, while only 7% of women with no recourse to public funds (barred from all public services due to their immigration status) were accommodated

In 32% of cases social services failed to meet their duty of care to survivors of domestic abuse, while 19% of survivors were prevented by local housing teams from making a homeless application – despite the fact that legally they should be treated as priority cases

The NWTA report is compiled from data collected between 19 January 2016 and 18 January 2017 by specialist caseworkers employed by Women’s Aid to support women for whom the National Domestic Violence Helpline were not able find a refuge vacancy. During this time, there were 8,623 calls to the helpline from survivors seeking refuge and 404 women were supported by the specialist caseworkers in their search, of whom only one quarter were eventually found a suitable refuge space during this period.

The year-long project revealed a widespread systemic failure from statutory agencies such as housing, social care and the police. Social services failed to help 32% of survivors seeking their help in finding a refuge space, either because they did not believe they had experienced domestic abuse, or because they stated they did not meet the risk threshold for intervention.

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© 2020 Women's Aid Federation of England – Women’s Aid is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 3171880.

Women’s Aid is a registered charity in England No. 1054154

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