Rail to Refuge: Life saving support for women and children

Blog by chief executive of Women’s Aid, Farah Nazeer

Imagine being able to get a space in a refuge but having no way of getting there.

Imagine being desperate to escape your abusive partner, who has said they will kill you and your children if you end the relationship. Imagine knowing there isn’t a safe way to move out of a home you share with your abuser or to ask them to leave. This is when a domestic abuse refuge can save your life, but what if you have no access to money as part of the abuse or can’t afford travel. This is where Rail to Refuge comes in and makes it possible to travel to safety.

The Rail to Refuge scheme offers free train travel to those fleeing domestic abuse, who have been given an offer of a place in refuge.

Rail to Refuge has been running nationwide since April 2020, and Women’s Aid has been proud to partner with the Rail Delivery Group; during this time to help 2,265 survivors, including 650 children, reach safety since its inception. Today we are launching a report to show the incredible impact it has had and continues to have.

Financial hardship and economic abuse are frequently part of domestic abuse, meaning that survivors often leave with nothing. It may be possible to find a place of safety locally, but women and children fleeing for their lives will often travel across local authorities, to be physically far away from the perpetrator. The Rail to Refuge scheme means that the survivor can travel to the service that feels most safe for them, and they are not limited by where they can afford to go.

This important scheme helps an average of four survivors, including children, find safety each day. This is truly extraordinary. For those survivors and their children, the scheme has given them a lifeline to safety, freedom and security. A lifeline to a future which would have been impossible to reach without the support of it – 64% of survivors tell us they would not have been able to travel without Rail to Refuge.

We are so proud have developed Rail to Refuge from the very beginning – which began with an idea by Southeastern station manager Darren O’Brien, who was inspired by watching our member service Reigate & Banstead Women’s Aid on Dispatches. It just shows the difference you can make to survivors’ lives when we work together. We would like to thank everyone who has been part of this lifesaving journey from the start.

For more information about Rail to Refuge, click here

© 2022 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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