SOS: Save Refuges, Save Lives

SOS - Save refuges, Save Lives.

Since September 2014, we have been calling on the government to Save Our Services by committing to preserving the national network of specialist refuges through exploring and securing a new model of national refuge funding and commissioning.

Since 2010, we have lost 17% of specialist refuges in England and third of all referrals to refuges are turned away, normally due to a lack of available space. And in 2016, planned welfare reforms threaten to devastate the funding refuges need to provide shelter.

Our world-leading network of specialist refuges is at risk when still two women a week, on average, are killed in England and Wales by a partner or former partner.

On one typical day, 103 children and 155 women are turned away from refuges. There is no space for them.

The campaign so far

Thanks to your support, the campaign has successfully secured a further investment of £33 million until 2018. This increased funding has supported many refuges to stay open and bolstered provision at many others.

But in Autumn 2016, once again, refuges are under threat. Planned welfare reforms threaten to devastate refuges across the country. Specifically, the Department for Work and Pensions’ plan to cap Housing Benefit at Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates from 2017 will mean that many refuges simply will not be able to provide vital support and accommodation to women in crisis.

SOS Campaign Infographic 2

67% of refuges will have to close if the LHA Benefit Cap goes ahead.

Housing Benefit is the backbone of many refuges. It pays for women and children’s rent while they stay in refuge, and picks up the cost of essential building and maintenance charges for shared accommodation.

Data from a sample of our member refuges show that, if this ‘LHA cap’ to Housing Benefit goes ahead:

  • 67% of refuges will close down
  • 87% of refuges would not be able to continue with their current level of provision

Women’s Aid call for refuges to be immediately exempt for the ‘LHA benefit cap’, and other welfare reforms with devastating unintended consequences.

The Government has shown great commitment to refuges, but these changes threaten to undermine the millions of pounds invested to keep them open. Our SOS Campaign urges Ministers to exempt refuges from welfare reforms, and secure a long term funding solution for these life-saving services.

SOS Campaign Infographic 1

Take action

Raise awareness  – Click on the links below to download and share our infographics on social media using #saverefugessavelives:

Infographic 1 (JPG) Infographic 2 (JPG) 

Women’s Aid Briefing on Local Housing Allowance Cap – this doucument explains more about the Local Housing Allowance cap and how it could be disastrous for refuge services

Email or write to your MP – You can find details of your local MP and tips for writing to them at:

Send your SOS signal – Download the mySOS template (PDF) and  write a word or phrase that explains why you think we should protect refuges. Then tweet us a picture, tagging #saverefugessavelives and we’ll add you to the gallery!


Reports and resources

Why we need to save our services
Women’s Aid data report on specialist domestic violence services. (PDF) – Download Report

Tackling domestic violence toolkit for MPs (PDF)
We want to help MPs support their constituents who may be experiencing domestic abuse. We have produced a toolkit with key data about domestic abuse and information on how MPs can support their constituents. – Download toolkit

Why refuges are so important: Real stories


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Support our national campaigns on a local level, give survivors of domestic violence a voice and help to ensure that politicians and other key decision makers are listening.

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© 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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