Refuge (United Kingdom charity)

Refuge is a United Kingdom charity providing specialist support for women and children experiencing domestic violence. Refuge provides a national network of specialist services, including emergency refuge accommodation, community outreach, independent domestic violence advocacy, culturally specific services and a team of child support workers. Refuge also runs the Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline in partnership with Women's Aid.
Erin Pizzey opened the world's first safe house for women and children escaping domestic violence, in Chiswick, West London, in 1971. It is the largest domestic violence organisation in the United Kingdom.
On any given day, Refuge’s services support 3,000 women and children. The charity is committed to working towards a world where women and children can live in safety, free from fear.


opened the world’s first refuge for women and children escaping domestic violence, in Chiswick, west London, in 1971. In 1979 the organisation became a registered charity, changing its name from Chiswick Women’s Aid to Chiswick Family Rescue. In 1993, the charity changed its name to Refuge, reflecting its growing national status. This followed a funding crisis in 1992 when the charity faced closure, before Sandra Horley made a personal appeal to Diana, Princess of Wales who made a donation and several private visits to the charity's shelters, raising its profile.
In 1997 three of the charity's trustees resigned in a controversy over one of their number's links to a group associated with false memory syndrome.
In 2010 Refuge was awarded the internationally recognised certificate by the British Standards Institute. BSI Group judged that Refuge operates a quality management system for its network of services which complies with the high standards of the ISO9001:2008 qualification.


Refuge provides a national network of refuges across 15 local authority areas in England.
Refuge also provides a number of other services, including Community Outreach and Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy services, and runs the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247 in partnership with Women's Aid.
Refuge also seeks to raise awareness of domestic violence and challenge negative social attitudes. It also responds to key policy consultations and debates, ensuring that the voices and needs of abused women and children are reflected in national legislation.


Refuge runs campaigns to raise awareness of domestic violence and reach out to women and children who experience domestic violence.
In 2013, Refuge launched a campaign calling on the Government to open a public inquiry into the response of the police and other state agencies to victims of domestic violence. The campaign was backed by the family of Maria Stubbings, who was murdered by her ex-partner in 2008. An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission in 2013 found that Essex Police made a series of failings in their response to Maria.
In 2012, Refuge launched an online video campaign called Don’t Cover It Up, with popular make-up artist Lauren Luke. The video was designed to raise awareness of the fact that many women who experience domestic violence keep it hidden. The video has been viewed over 2.3 million times to date and won numerous awards including the coveted Creative Circle Gold of Golds award.
In 2009 Refuge conducted a high-profile awareness raising campaign titled Four Ways To Speak Out in partnership with the cosmetics company Avon Products. The campaign was supported by a number of families whose loved ones had been killed as a result of domestic violence.
In 2008 Refuge created an advertising campaign designed to raise awareness of the warning signs of domestic violence, highlighting the statistic that two women are killed every week by current or former partners in England and Wales. The campaign was based on a YouGov survey showing that young women lack awareness of the techniques used by violent men to control women.
In 1999, Sheryl Gascoigne supported Refuge's campaign 'It's a Matter of Life and Death'. She had recently divorced footballer Paul Gascoigne following her experience of domestic violence at his hands.


Refuge undertakes research into the effects of domestic violence and issues surrounding service provision for abused women and children.
In 2011, Refuge and the NSPCC, funded by the City Bridge Trust, produced a report on the services for children living with domestic violence in London.
Together with the charity Respect, Refuge has produced a domestic abuse resource manual for employers. This resource is designed to help employers and human resources professionals respond to employees who are victims or perpetrators of abuse. In 2011 Refuge and Respect published an evaluation of the resource manual after piloting it with a county council.
In 2010, Refuge conducted a scoping study into the experience of forced marriage of women from Middle Eastern and North East African communities.
In 2009, Refuge produced a report titled 'Starting in School' as a result of a YouGov survey exploring young women’s attitudes and knowledge of the warning signs of domestic violence.
In 2008, Refuge released a study into the impacts of financial abuse on women and children experiencing domestic violence.
In 2005, Refuge produced a report on assessment and intervention for pre-school children exposed to domestic violence. It identifies ways to support young children and help them overcome their experiences.


In 2010 Refuge had an income of £10,284,785. The funding is mostly from United Kingdom taxpayers via the Home Office and local councils.
In 2009 a member of staff received over £190,000 p.a. with employer pension contributions to the highest paid staff of over £70,000.


Patrons of the charity include Cherie Booth, Patrick Stewart, Jo Brand, Helena Kennedy and Fiona Bruce.

Sir Patrick Stewart

In 2007, English actor Patrick Stewart was appointed a patron of Refuge, having witnessed his mother experience violence from his father as a child.
In October 2011, Stewart presented a BBC Lifeline appeal for Refuge and interviewed a woman whose daughter had been killed by an abusive ex partner.
In May 2013, while answering fans’ questions at Comicpalooza, Stewart spoke about his work with Refuge in response to a fan asking what he was most proud of outside of acting.
In September 2014, writing in the New Statesman, Sir Patrick backed Refuge's campaign for a public inquiry into the police and state response to domestic violence.
In December 2014 Stewart backed Refuge's fundraising appeal to keep its refuge service in Stratford-Upon-Avon open, commenting: "It is no exaggeration to say that services like this save lives. Behind the walls of these extraordinary houses, specialist staff help women and children to rebuild every aspect of their lives, helping them to stay safe from violent men, access health services, legal advocacy and immigration advice, as well as get back into work or education."
Sir Patrick has also expressed his support for Refuge in national news outlets on a number of occasions.