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Refuges ‘turning away’ domestic abuse victims due to lack of space

Specialist refuges are turning away nearly a third of domestic abuse referrals due to a lack of space, according to the latest research by Women’s Aid. 

The charity’s annual survey on domestic violence services highlighted that in England one in six specialist refuges have been closed since 2010 due to funding cuts and poor commissioning. 

Yesterday evening Women’s Aid held a series of vigils around the country to mark the loss of specialist domestic violence services. It also handed in a petition signed by more than 38,000 people to 10 Downing Street, calling for the government to act urgently to save refuges. 

The vigils and petition are part of the charity’s SOS campaign calling for a national funding solution for the nationwide network of refuges. 


In response, Cllr Joanna Spicer, vice chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “There is no place in society for domestic abuse and it is important that victims have access to all the help they need. The voluntary sector plays a key role in this and councils work closely with them, alongside police, health and other organisations to prevent domestic abuse and support victims. 

“Despite funding pressures, councils continue to fund services demonstrating their commitment, expertise and experience in helping victims of domestic abuse. 

“Councils are also seeking to improve the quality of support to victims, for example by investing in self-contained accommodation units where victims and their children stay if they are unable to remain in their own home.” 

Data from research carried out on behalf of Women’s Aid by YouGov Plc, revealed that 60% of voters feel the government should do more to preserve the national network of domestic violence refuges for women and children. 

Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Specialist refuges are essential to women fleeing domestic violence: they provide not just accommodation, but a holistic package of support, advocacy, counselling, and safety for women and their children both within the refuge and in the community. 

“Without refuges, women who desperately need to escape their violent partners will have nowhere safe to go. We urge the government to respond to our SOS within the upcoming 16 days of action for the elimination of violence against women, which begins on the 25 November. Without urgent action, many more services will be lost.” 

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