Emergency housing if you’re homeless: women's refuges

Find out about women's refuges if you've experienced domestic violence - how to get a place and what they're like.

Get a place in a refuge

A refuge is a safe house for women to escape domestic abuse.

Refuges can provide spaces for women on their own, or with children.

You don't need to have experienced physical abuse to stay in a refuge.

Contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline to discuss your options

0808 2000 247
Free 24 hour helpline

You can also find a refuge using the Women's Aid directory.

You can sometimes get a place on the day you call, but you can't usually book a place for a later date. If you're not safe in the immediate area where you live, you may need to go to a refuge in a different area.

What they offer

Most refuges are ordinary houses although some are larger purpose built buildings. 

In most you get a room of your own or to share with your children.

You may have to share a:

  • living room
  • kitchen
  • bathroom

You need to cook for yourself and can come and go as you please.

Trained female staff can give you emotional and practical support. 

Rules in a refuge

You usually sign a licence agreement which contains the refuge rules. 

Most refuges don't allow:

Refuges usually keep their address secret to protect people living there.

You can usually stay as long as you need to – though some refuges have a time limit. Staff will help you to move you back to a safe settled home when you leave the refuge.

How much it costs to stay in a refuge

Rent varies but if you can get housing benefit this covers all or some of the cost. 

Staff at the refuge can help you to apply.

If you have to pay rent on the home you've left, you can usually get benefit for both homes for up to 52 weeks as long as you intend to return to your old home.

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Last updated - 18 December 2019

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