What is a refuge?

A refuge is a safe house where women or men and their children who are experiencing domestic abuse can stay on a temporary basis. The Elm Foundation has four refuges, three for women and one dedicated to men offering a total of 25 family bed spaces.

The aims of refuge accommodation are to empower residents through support and advice to successfully move onto independent living, free from abuse.

Who can go to refuge?

Any woman or man fleeing domestic abuse can go into a refuge at any time regardless of their marital status, race, religion, sexuality, age nationality, disability or whether or not they have children.

A risk assessment will need to be carried out to ensure the refuge they are going to is secure and a ‘safe’ distance away from any areas where their abuser has connections. It is unlikely they will be accepted into refuge within their immediate local area as this is where they are most at risk.

Life in refuge

The Elm Foundation refuge accommodation provides family rooms. One of our refuges is adapted for disabled access with ground floor bedrooms and en-suite wet rooms. Some of our accommodation offers en-suite bathrooms whilst others have communal facilities.

They all have living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms and playrooms which are shared with other refuge residents. There are no expectations placed on residents to use the communal facilities. You can be as self-contained or a sociable as you want to be.

Residents are expected to cook and clean for themselves and their children. We also have a rota for the cleaning of communal areas.  

All residents are required to sign a license agreement which includes rules such as payment of rent, confidentiality and the use of drugs or alcohol etc., to ensure the safety of all residents.

How do I get into a refuge?

You can call the Freephone National 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 which will help you to leave your current home safely and find you refuge accommodation.

You should be able to go into refuge on the same day you complete the referral process which consists of providing your name, ages of any children, a safe contact number and details about the domestic abuse. Refuge space can’t usually be booked in advance and it isn’t always possible to find available accommodation in an area of your choice.

When refuge accommodation has been found for you, a member of staff from The Elm Foundation or other refuge providers will discuss with you how you can get there. They won’t give you the address and location of the refuge until you arrive at a pre-arranged location.

If you are in immediate danger you should contact the police by dialing 999. The police are also able to help you find safe accommodation in refuge.