Domestic abuse services

Domestic abuse services provide a wide range of information and support including refuge accommodation, helplines, outreach support, floating support, resettlement support, specialist children and young people services, Domestic Abuse Prevention Advocates and drop-in support.

In May 2017, there were 229 providers providing 365 local domestic abuse services throughout England. These local services between them run 276 refuge services and 190 dedicated services for children and young people. (Women’s Aid, May 2017 – data from Routes to Support, the UK violence against women and girls database of service and refuge vacancies)

Refuge services

Based on answers to the Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2017, we estimate that:

  • there were 3,557 women with 3,919 children and young people staying in refuge on the Day to Count 2017 across all services in England.
  • over the year 2016/17, refuge services supported a total of 13,414 women with 14,353 children and young people across all services in England. (Women’s Aid, 2018)

Community-based services

Based on answers to the Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2017, we estimate that:

  • there were 25,727 women using community-based services in the Week to Count 2017 across all services in England.
  •  154,306 women used community-based services during the year 2016/17 across all services in England. (Women’s Aid, 2018)

Demand for domestic abuse services

The demand for domestic abuse services is high. It is difficult to exactly demonstrate demand as the only numbers available are for those referrals declined. There are likely to be many women who could have benefited from a referral but are not counted in these figures. This is perhaps because the woman was too frightened to disclose the abuse she was experiencing or a referring agency already knew a refuge was full or not able to support that particular woman’s needs, so did not make the referral. Findings from our annual survey showed that:

  • 60.0% of referrals in 2016/17 to the refuge services responding to the Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2017 were declined. One in five of all referrals were declined due to lack of space in the refuge.
  • 24.3% of referrals in 2016/17 to the community-based domestic abuse services responding to the Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2017 were declined. (Women’s Aid, 2018)

Accessibility

  • The number of spaces in refuges stating they offer 24 hour staffing cover fell from 796 to 737 during 2016/17 (Routes to Support*).
  • Only 66.3% of refuges and 33.9% of community-based services have children’s workers (Routes to Support).
  • Less than one in five vacancies posted to Routes to Support during 2016/17 could take a women with three children.
  • During 2016/17, only 766 out of 11,187 vacancies (5.4%) posted on Routes to Support would consider applications from women with no recourse to public funds.
  • Of the 11,187 vacancies listed on Routes to Support during 2016/17, only 1.7% (n=195) had wheelchair access.
  • In England, on 1st May 2017, there were 28 refuge services run specifically for black and minority ethnic (BME) women, though not all of these were run by BME women. (Women’s Aid, 2018)

 * Routes to Support is the UK violence against women and girls database of service and refuge vacancies

Journeys to safety

  • Women often have to travel many miles and uproot their lives in order to escape a violent perpetrator. There are around 10, 000 migration journeys a year, across local authority boundaries, to access services in England because of domestic abuse. There were 10,161 migration journeys in 2008–2009. (Bowstead, 2015)
  • The majority of women resident in refuge on the Day to Count 2017 had come from a different local authority area (68.4%). Data collected by Women’s Aid through Routes to Support* from refuge services in London show a similar pattern with the majority of women placed in a refuge in 2016/17 coming from another London borough (67.1%), following by outside of London (21.1%). (Women’s Aid, 2018)

 * Routes to Support is the UK violence against women and girls database of service and refuge vacancies

The funding of domestic abuse services

Women’s organisations have been disproportionately impacted by recent and current public spending cuts and efficiency savings.

  • 46.3% (57 services of 123) of responding organisations were running an area of work without dedicated funding during the previous financial year. (Women’s Aid, 2018 – data from Annual Survey 2017)
  • Funding was the most commonly mentioned theme to a question about the service’s biggest challenge in 2016/17, with 60.0% of respondents to this annual survey question (69 responses) giving comments about funding challenges. (Women’s Aid, 2018 – data from Annual Survey 2017)
  • 20.3% (24 service providers) responding to the Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2017 received 25% or less of their funding from the local authority. 11.9% (14 service providers) of respondents received no local authority funding at all in 2016/17. (Women’s Aid, 2018 – data from Annual Survey 2017)

Further information and support

If would like more information about domestic abuse go to:  The Survivor’s Handbook

If you or a friend need help call the National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership with Refuge) 0808 2000 247


References

Bowstead, J.C. (2015) ‘Why women’s domestic violence refuges are not local services’, Critical Social Policy, Vol. 35(3): 327–349, p. 335

Women’s Aid – Routes to Support data (May 2017)  Routes to Support is the UK violence against women and girls database of service and refuge vacancies, run in partnership by Scottish Women’s Aid, Welsh Women’s Aid, Women’s Aid Federation of England and Women’s Aid Federation of Northern Ireland

Women’s Aid. (2018) Survival and Beyond: The Domestic Abuse Report 2017. Bristol: Women’s Aid

© 2015 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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