Since September 2014, we have been calling on the government to Save Our Services by committing to preserving the national network of specialist refuges.
During 2019-20, 57% of referrals to refuges were rejected and the main reason was due to lack of space or capacity.
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. Women’s Aid is leading the SOS Campaign to secure a long term funding solution for life-saving services.
The campaign so far
During 2014-2021, the campaign successfully secured emergency funding investment of £70 million for life-saving refuges.
This increased funding has supported many refuges to stay open and bolstered provision at many others. But sadly refuges are still lurching from crisis to crisis.
From 2016-18, with the support of survivors, our member services and hundreds of thousands of people, we fought off disastrous planned reforms to the future funding of rent in refuges.
We have continued to push for a sustainable funding solution to fix the funding crisis that refuges face for good. In 2021, the government’s domestic abuse bill will deliver first ever legal duty placed on local authorities to deliver support to survivors of domestic abuse in accommodation-based services, backed by funding to place services on a sustainable footing.
But the campaign is far from over.
The new duty could help to end the post-code lottery that survivors currently face when seeking safety. But, unless the right safeguards are in place, women’s refuges will be at risk. The statutory duty does not guarantee that funding will go to specialist women’s refuges, and this could mean survivors and their children are housing in unsafe and unsuitable housing without the expert support they need to cope and recover. It also will not stop competitive and ‘gender-neutral’ commissioning processes which threaten the very existence of women’s services.
Our SOS campaign will continue until we secure a funding solution that works for the life-saving services women and children need.
Campaign action: Women’s Aid’s SOS campaign – require local authorities to fund specific domestic abuse services for women
There is a worrying increase in ‘gender-neutral’ funding and commissioning which is harming women and the services they need. This trend ignores the fact that the vast majority of victims who are seriously injured, or killed, by a partner or ex-partner, are women; and fails to deliver specialist support which has the necessary gendered and intersectional understanding that can meet the needs of survivors. ‘Gender neutral’ approaches are in practice de-funding live-saving women’s services; and undoing decades of critical work to challenge the inequality that drives domestic abuse.
Action: Sign our petition
Why refuges are so important: Real stories
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