Modern Slavery Statement

Refuge is a feminist organisation committed to preventing all forms of harm and abuse. We believe it is important to be transparent about our efforts to tackle modern slavery, and to consistently review measures and strengthen them where necessary.

Modern Slavery Statement


Refuge is a registered UK charity and social housing provider supporting survivors of domestic abuse since 1971. We are a feminist organisation whose clients are impacted by gender based violence. Our values lead our approach to our work which is rooted in addressing abuse and violence including through understanding intersectionality, patriarchal power structures and misogynistic cultural norms.

Our specialist services include our safe accommodation and community based outreach services, our technical experts in economic and technology-facilitated abuse, and we advocate for increased protections in law, policy and practice for survivors of domestic abuse. Refuge also runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline which is freephone on 0800 2000 247.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires some organisations in the UK to publish a statement setting out the measures in place within their operations and supply chains to tackle modern slavery. Refuge does not meet the annual minimum turnover threshold required to publish this statement, however it does so because as a feminist organisation committed to preventing all forms of harm and abuse we believe it is important to be transparent about our efforts to tackle modern slavery, and to consistently review measures and strengthen them where necessary.


Our Governance Structure

The day-to-day work of our charity is about supporting people to live a life free from domestic abuse.  The safety of people is at the core of what we do and is a constant consideration across all our operations. We work hard to prevent harm and abuse, while also responding through sensitive and timely reporting and resolution. This is an integral part of providing high quality domestic abuse services in which we recognise that safeguarding including modern slavery is centred in our efforts and actions.

Refuge is governed by our Board of Trustees. Members of the Board have delegated responsibilities for decision making via sub committees. This includes the Services & Safeguarding and the Audit & Risk Committees both of which discuss safeguarding and risk related issues on a quarterly basis and then report to the wider Board to ensure full oversight. There is a dedicated lead for Safeguarding and Whistleblowing on the Board. The Board of Trustees work closely with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) including the CEO via the sub committees and regular Board meetings.

The SLT, who are responsible for the day to day running of our charity, works closely with the Senior Management Team (SMT) to ensure its effective running and discuss Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and the Risk Register both of which include safeguarding and risk related issues.  There are dedicated SLT and SMT leads for Safeguarding.


Our Approach to Safeguarding

Modern slavery features clearly within our approach to safeguarding both as a specific area of concern but also as a wider concern within any form of harm or abuse. The operational guidance to identify and support victims of modern slavery is included in our Safeguarding Adults and Children Procedures.

Risk assessments and safety planning sit at the heart of all our interactions with clients and are led by trained staff and volunteers working within our frontline services. This is something that we do continuously and consistently throughout our relationship with our clients. Risk assessing and safety planning is supported by clear policy and procedural guidance, mandatory training for all frontline staff, and casework supervision support.

Our procedures and mandatory training on safeguarding adults and children offer specific guidance in relation to modern slavery. This includes the National Referral Mechanism and Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700.

Refuge also has a wider suite of policies and procedures in place to prevent, report and respond to harm and abuse including our Major incident Policy, our Casework Management Policy, and our Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) Policy. Further, as a domestic abuse service we have close local partnerships with statutory agencies including the police and social services which enables swift action as needed.

All major incidents have the oversight of internal designated safeguarding leads both within SMT and SLT. All Serious Incident Reports have the oversight of the designated Trustee for Safeguarding and the full Board via the Services & Safeguarding Committee albeit with confidentiality concerns considered.

If we need to review any aspect of our approach to safeguarding sooner, we do so based on reflection and learning of all incidents or new legislative and statutory guidance so that we can meaningfully prevent, and respond, to all safeguarding concerns.


Our Policies & Procedures

Our policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and there has been intentional efforts across 2022 and 2023 to ensure that they are fit for purpose and user friendly for our staff and volunteers.

Our Code of Conduct, one for staff and volunteers and a separate one for Trustees and Committee Members, sets out the behavioural expectations of everyone acting in Refuge’s name including our staff, volunteers, Trustees & Committee Members, and contractors. These Codes stipulate the collective responsibility to prevent, report, and respond to harm and abuse, and there are clear escalation routes to support everyone to do so.

Our Respect at Work Policy further sets of behavioural expectations of everyone to ensure that they act professionally at all times and treat all those around them with dignity and respect. It makes clear that all forms of bullying and harassment whilst at work will not be tolerated.

Our Overarching Safeguarding Policy, Safeguarding Adult and Safeguarding Children Procedures, and Risk Assessment & Ongoing Risk Assessment Policy & Procedure are just some of the guidance and tools available to prevent harm and abuse, and aid sensitive and timely responses rooted in reducing trauma.

Our Feedback Management Policy provides the opportunity for people accessing our services to provide feedback including if they have concerns about any other people within the service. There are other mechanisms in place with our accommodation and community based services to gather feedback from those accessing the services including via house meetings and one to one meetings with support workers.

Through our Whistleblowing Policy, everyone is made aware of safe communication routes to challenge or report suspected illegal or unethical conduct and ensure that they are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly, promptly and confidentially. All whistleblowing incidents have the oversight of our designated SLT Director for Whistleblowing, our designated Trustee for Whistleblowing, and the relevant sub Committee at Board.

There is guidance in place for all procurement of services. This includes internal due diligence checks for all contractors which assess their competence and safety (See Our Approach to Procuring Services below).


Our Approach to Procuring Services

Our procurement guidance including our Terms & Conditions sets out good practice guidance on the procurement of services within our frontline operations. All contractors are subjected to relevant checks to ensure that they are suitable to work within our services.

Our Scheme of Delegation stipulates the delegated responsibilities for operational staff and our standard Terms & Conditions places re-emphasis on the requirement of all services to be performed with “the best care, skill and diligence in accordance with best practice in the supplier’s industry, profession or trade”.

We endeavour to partner with organisations that match our commitment to human rights, and comply with the highest ethical and professional standards.  As part of our due diligence with all new partners, we require and ensure that they have safeguarding policies including adults and children’s safeguarding guidance before entering into any formal partnership.


Our Training

Refuge has an extensive suite of training including mandatory safeguarding training relevant to frontline roles. Our Adult Safeguarding, Children Safeguarding, and National Domestic Abuse Helpline (NDAH) Safeguarding trainings include modern slavery as a form of abuse and is reinforced further given that it sits within the wider concern of harm and abuse.


This statement was approved by Board of Trustees on 21 March 2024.
It is signed by:

Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, Chair of the Board of Trustees

(on behalf of the full Board)

Abigail Ampofo, Interim CEO

(on behalf of the Senior Leadership Team)