REFUGE and RESETTLEMENT
The refuge provides women who need it with somewhere safe to stay, giving time and space to think about all the options and the best way forward for each woman and her children to regain a life free from the fear of violence and intimidation. 27 women lived in the refuge during 2010-11.
The refuge staff are qualified professionals who are specifically trained in dealing with domestic violence issues. The refuge staff understand the issues in our community. Any information they are given is confidential and issues and people in the refuge are not discussed outside. Residents can be secure that information about them and their situation will not be passed on to those in the Jewish community whom they might know.
Staff will welcome each woman into the house and introduce them to each other. Each woman is assigned a key-worker who will work with them and support them while they are in the refuge and through the period of resettlement once they move on.
Staff are there to give residents practical support, such as registering with a new doctor, securing new school places for children, applying for benefits, contacting solicitors and obtaining legal advice, dealing with immigration issues and looking at available rehousing options. Professional key-workers will draw up individual support plans dependent on individual needs, which are reviewed on a regular basis.
The staff are also available to provide emotional support. They understand the enormity of what the residents have been through and will try to help them to make sense of what has happened to them. Their role is not to judge or blame, but to accept and support and to help the residents to reflect and consider all options, possibilities and consequences, with objective advice and information; and to provide time and space to enable each person to feel confident to make their own decisions.
Kashrut, Shabbat and festivals are strictly observed within the refuge, enabling woman from across our diverse community to access this service and to feel reassured that traditional Jewish values and practices are maintained. Our refuge, the only one of its kind in Europe, is for any Jewish woman who has experienced domestic violence, whatever their level of observance, whether the abuse was physical violence, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial, or a combination.
While the JWA refuge is well-maintained, friendly and welcoming, it is not the same as one’s home. Women have their own room which they will share with their children. Bathrooms, living areas and kitchen are communal. The efuge is a temporary home, which we make as comfortable as we can, but residents do not have the same privacy or resources as they would have in their own home. No friends or family can visit as the location of the refuge is secret and needs to remain so for the safety of the residents.
Residents find friendship, camaraderie and support in a caring and accepting atmosphere. The JWA refuge is clean, bright, cared-for and comfortable. It is safe and secure, a place of refuge, where women can rest, heal and plan for the future, staying as long as necessary, and then move on, in confidence, with support and help.
Referrals to the refuge may be made directly by any woman in need or through a professional agency. If you are in need of refuge accommodation, please contact the JWA Helpline on freephone 0808 801 0500 or the JWA Head Office on: 020 8445 8060. In the event that you require emergency accommodation out of office hours, please contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 08457 2000 247 and ask for Jewish services.
**REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER, ALWAYS DIAL 999**
Once you move on from the refuge into a property of your own, be that a purchased, private rented, local authority or housing association property, the support of Jewish Women’s Aid does not end there. Moving on from the refuge may be a daunting and difficult time. The support network built up whilst in the refuge may not be so readily available and some women may find themselves feeling alone and vulnerable once more. With your assigned key-worker, you will work together for a further six months or until you feel confident and strong enough to be independent and able to live your life free from fear or the threat of violence. Your key-worker will work closely with you on issues such as:
- Security arrangements and personal safety awareness
- Ensuring that you have all essential furniture before you move into a property
- Ensuring that you have all the necessary utilities connected i.e. gas, water, electricity
- Appropriate schooling is secured for your children
- Support writing letters and making telephone calls to relevant agencies
- Emotional support