The No Woman Turned Away (NWTA) referral pathway is here to help
If you feel you can’t support a survivor, it doesn’t have to be the end of her story. You can still help her escape abuse and access safety.
Despite wanting to, frontline services don’t always have the resources and capacity to support women and children who face additional barriers, such as no recourse to public funds, a lack of accessible space, or no space for their children.
This project can take your referral, and provide a specialist case worker to help survivors receive the support they need.
In this blog, Sue — who is a Domestic Violence and Abuse Specialist Practitioner for NWTA — shares how the project helps services to support women who would otherwise not find the safe accommodation they desperately need.
Over 25 years ago I started as a volunteer for what was called the Women’s Aid Domestic Violence Helpline. I have also worked for a local refuge, both in the refuge itself and on its helpline. Currently, I work on the NWTA project, which has been funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to specifically support women and children who face additional barriers to accessing refuge accommodation.
These barriers may include having additional support needs around mental health, substance abuse, disability or language. Women may have no recourse to public funds, with no access to other support because of their insecure immigration status, they may have large families, or families with boys over 14. Or there may be other barriers – e.g, not having credit to make the phone call to a refuge, or high anxiety levels that mean they are unable to make calls themselves.
This year there has been an additional barrier – Covid-19. For many women who are trapped with their abuser, home is not the safest place to be. With the NWTA project, we have supported many women in these circumstances, acting as a go-between for them and refuge services, and enabling them to access safety.
A total of 423 referrals (408 individual women; i.e. there were 15 repeat referrals) were made to the NWTA specialist practitioners between the 12th January 2019 and the 11th January 2020. 243 women engaged and finished their support between the 12th January 2019 and the 11th January 2020.
Of the 243 women, over a third of the women (38.3%) sofa-surfed while they waited for a refuge space. Others stayed in emergency accommodation (11.9%) or hotels (8.2%). Seventeen women (7.0%) slept rough whilst waiting for a refuge place. This included sleeping in their car, a church, in a storage unit at work, and on the streets. Two women who slept rough had a physical disability. One woman slept rough with her son.
This is Julianne’s Story
Julianne had many support needs. She was on a methadone script, an ex-offender and was a current user of crack cocaine.
The abuse was extreme and there was a very serious risk to her life.
She was referred to us by a member service – they had been looking for refuge for her for over a month.
After a week of searching by NWTA, Julianne was accepted by a specialist recovery refuge – she had no money to travel, so NWTA and the refuge supported her with an application to Rail to Refuge and Julianne then travelled from one end of the country to the other to access support.
She was delighted and relieved – she had been in the abusive relationship for 10 years and didn’t believe she would ever get away from her abuser, or receive support in refuge with her substance and mental health issues.
“Thank you to the No Woman Turned Away project – this gives me a chance to rebuild my life and restart my relationships with my children.”