Safe places, free from fear.
BWA can provide safe emergency accommodation for up to 38 women and their children at any one time.
BWA has nine refuges across three local authorities: Reading; Wokingham; and Bracknell. Each family has its own bedroom with shared facilities. The refuges range from a two bedded flat to a six bedroom purpose built house with disabled access. Another provides support specifically for Asian women and their children. BWA also has online access to refuge vacancies across the UK so we can find space for those who need to move out of the area.
Refuge provides a breathing space where decisions can be made free from pressure or fear. All refuge workers are based on site.
The BWA refuge service
People come to refuge when they are in crisis. BWA helps begin the process of rebuilding damaged lives. We don’t judge, we listen.
An initial support session with a key worker identifies immediate needs, followed by a full induction where safety and support plans are considered along with a range of interventions.
The needs of children are discussed and plans made. Health visitors regularly attend refuges to help with under 5’s. Most residents rate BWA support as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’.
Questions We Get Asked about Refuge
Q. How do I get into a refuge?
A. When you call our Helpline (0118) 9504003, you will speak to a worker who will take all relevant information from you at that time. She will assess the risk to you currently and look at your needs and then a decision will be made. The workers will then discuss with you about how you can travel to the refuge. You will be told to go to a safe meeting place and make contact with the Helpline again.
When you arrive at the meeting point, someone will come to collect you, or you may be advised to get a taxi; this will all be explained to you.
Q. What happens if I have no money to travel?
A. We will explore lots of ideas with you about where you may be able to access money. If you have children, you may be able to collect a travel warrant from social services. We may even allow the police to bring you to they door of the refuge as long as this is a safe option for you.
Q. Will I be able to bring all my children, including my son?
A. You will be able to bring children up to the age of 18; however, we will only take male children up to the age of 17years. There are a number of options we would discuss with you if you have an older male child. If your child is over 18 and needs support, then they may be able to move into the refuge on their own.
Q. What will happen to my pet?
A. Some refuges do allow pets, however, to enable everyone to have fair access to our refuges; we have to ask women to leave their pets behind.
We do have access to the Pet refuge scheme, where you can contact them and arrange for your cat to be looked after while you are in refuge.
Q. Will my children have to move schools?
A. Your children will be registered in a school locally to the refuge. The Local Education Authority is used to families living in our refuges registering for school places.
Q. Will I have to pay rent and how will I afford it?
A. Once you have arrived at refuge you can claim income support for yourself and any children you have with you. The staff will assist you in making contact with the local DWP (JobCentreplus) to access benefits, including Housing Benefit. You will then pay a ‘personal charge’; which is your rent, and the rest of the rent cost will be made up from Housing Benefit
Q. How long will I stay in a refuge?
A. The time women stay in a refuge can vary. We are classed as short-term accommodation, so you will be encouraged to find alternative accommodation, but it will be done at a sensible pace and when you feel able to. Most women apply for homelessness status immediately when they arrive at refuge and actively try to access alternative accommodation for themselves and their children.
Q. I am in a wheelchair and need a carer to help me to get up in the morning and into bed at night, what can I do?
A. We have an access suite that would enable you to stay with us. We would look at all the circumstances and find the best solution for you coming into refuge. In conjunction with the refuge staff, a support plan would be drawn up and a carer would be able to visit the refuge to assist you with personal care.
Q. What happens if I go back to my abuser, will you help me again?
A. You can certainly contact us again, as long as you have not disclosed the refuge address, you can still access refuge from us. If it is not suitable that you have refuge, we would look at other options to support you.
Q. Am I allowed to bring friends to the refuge?
A. The refuge is a safe place for women who are fleeing domestic violence. No visitors are allowed on the premises without permission of the staff; such as contractors or health visitors. Anyone who brings someone back to the refuge or discloses the address would be asked to leave the refuge.
Q. I am in a same sex relationship; can I stay in a refuge?
A. It does not matter whether your abuser is male or female, we will offer you accommodation if it is appropriate.
Q. I am a man in an abusive relationship, what can you do for me?
A. We can offer you options to enable you to make choices. If you needed to be in a refuge then we would make contact with other organisations who can provide you with refuge accommodation and assist you in keeping yourself safe.
Q: I do not have Indefinite Leave To Remain – can you still help me?
A. BWA work with women and children who do not have recourse to public funds. Before accepting a family into the refuge, we will need to secure funding to cover rent costs and help you with day to day living costs. We will be able to accept any women who has the money available to cover her own rent and living costs. BWA will also assist you to access legal advice to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.