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

To find a place in a refuge call the free:

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

You can often 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. Some offer separate units for families but 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 staff can give you emotional and practical support. They're usually all women.

You usually need to sign a contract saying you agree to pay rent and keep to their 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 limit on the time you can stay. Staff will help you to move you back to a safe settled home when you leave the refuge.

Who they're for

Refuges are for women and children at risk of domestic abuse, violence or threats. You can bring children but some refuges won't accept boys over the age of 13 or 14.

Some refuges are for certain groups of women, including those who are:

  • disabled or have special needs
  • from certain backgrounds, eg Asian or Irish
  • drug or alcohol users

How much they cost

Rent varies but if you can get housing benefit this covers all or some of the cost. Staff at the refuge will help you apply once you arrive.

If you have to pay rent on the home you've left, you can usually get housing 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 - 03 Apr 2018

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