News | Press Release

4 September 2023

Refuge launches two-year dispersed accommodation pilot project in Warwickshire

Refuge, the country’s largest provider of specialist domestic abuse services has launched a new additional service in Warwickshire.

The dispersed accommodation service is currently a two-year pilot project, which hopes to ensure services are accessible for more survivors of domestic abuse.

Refuge is currently the main provider of specialist domestic abuse services across Warwickshire offering community-based services and refuges (specialist shared and self-contained accommodation for women and their children fleeing domestic abuse).

The new dispersed pilot project provides accommodation which allows for independent living with specialist support and this project, which is based on a pioneering feasibility study funded by Commonweal Housing, has the potential to transform how domestic abuse service provision is provided.

This pilot is a ground-breaking project from the sector to ensure services are accessible for all survivors who need them. The accommodation hopes to support survivors of domestic abuse who may not have typically been able to access specialist shared accommodation, such as survivors with disabilities, survivors with pets, male survivors, and trans survivors.

Ruth Davison, CEO of Refuge, said:

“I’m delighted that Refuge has been able to deliver this new accommodation service with the help of all our partners. This new service builds on the incredible work already being done by the Refuge team in the Warwickshire community.

“At Refuge, we are committed to delivering a high-quality, specialist service which is tailored to the needs of every survivor. The new dispersed accommodation service will allow us to support survivors who need to flee to new accommodation, but for whom a traditional refuge setting may not be appropriate – such as those with older male children, large families, or pets.

“I look forward to seeing the success of this new model as it continues to expand in the coming year.”

Cllr Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety at Warwickshire County Council said:

“Warwickshire has a comprehensive safe accommodation provision that has only been bolstered by the addition of the dispersed accommodation. Central Government funding has allowed for further investment into our Safe Accommodation Strategy, taking into account the need for housing units that meets wider representation needs. I am pleased to see the expansion of the support and the continuation of our working relationship with Refuge.”

Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales, said:

“Every victim or survivor of domestic abuse, whatever their circumstance, must be able to find safe refuge away from their perpetrator.

“When it comes to safe accommodation, one size does not fit all, so it is crucial for alternative accommodation options to be on offer so that even the most marginalised survivors can reach a place of safety. I’m delighted to see Refuge piloting the dispersed accommodation model and look forward to seeing how it progresses.”

Louise Swinden, Property Fund Manager at Resonance, said:

“The lack of suitable and affordable housing options available to women fleeing domestic abuse means that too many are either stuck living with their perpetrator or potentially put themselves at risk of homelessness. So, the Women in Safe Homes fund, run as a joint venture between Resonance and Patron Capital, is excited to be partnering with Refuge to support them in building their first dispersed property portfolio.

“Investment of around circa £3.5M from the fund will enable it to purchase fourteen one-, two- and three-bedroom properties to house women fleeing domestic abuse. Based on Refuge’s specifications, the fund will purchase and refurbish properties to a high standard, ensuring they are as energy efficient as possible, providing women and their children with a safe and stable home to call their own, alongside bespoke emotional and practical support Refuge provides every woman housed by the fund.

“This portfolio is in addition to the seven-bedroom refuge the fund is also purchasing for Refuge in London, thereby enabling even more women to live in a safe home and able to live their lives how they choose, without fear.”

Keith Breslauer, Managing Director of Patron Capital said:

“We are proud that the Women in Safe Homes fund is partnering with Refuge to create a portfolio of dispersed residential properties in the UK that will provide much needed homes for vulnerable women and their children under a new pilot housing model. We are supporting our partners Resonance and Refuge to access the safe and tailored properties based on demand and allowing them to support more women and children through a range of variety and innovative approaches. We will continue to lend our expertise to ensure the homes are refurbished to the highest quality.

“The Woman in Safe Homes fund was set up to provide shelter for vulnerable women facing some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. Without safe and secure housing, women experiencing complex issues and adversity find it much harder to care for children, gain employment, access healthcare, or arrange benefits. The fund is aiming to tackle this significant issue, helping to improve lives across the UK and continue to highlight important societal problems that need addressing.”