More Women’s Refuges ‘Necessary’

Women fleeing domestic violence in parts of south east Wales will have to move “a long way away” unless more refuges are set up, say aid workers. Currently there is no refuge in Blaenau Gwent and the refuges in Newport, Monmouthshire, the Rhymney Valley and Torfaen face increasing demand.

Carole Challingsworth from Newport Women’s Aid said a lack of facilities meant some women were not being helped.

A lack of safe houses means help often involves women moving miles from home.

“We are in desperate need of more refuges,” said Ms Challingsworth who is involved with the running of Newport’s only Women’s Aid refuge.

“This morning alone, we had to turn away three for refuge.

“The problem of lack of space has been going on or a long time and it’s escalating.

“I don’t know why – maybe more women are deciding they are not putting up with it any more.

“Whatever their reason it is very hard not to be able to help when they have taken the brave step of leaving the situation they have been in.”

The refuge in Newport can take up to nine families and is “constantly full”.

Because of a lack of facilities, many women trying to access help are offered help in other areas, sometimes miles from their own homes.

“We are having to send women to refuges a really long way away from home and this isn’t ideal,” she said.

“Two of the cases we had to turn away this morning were requests from other refuges who were full.

“And the other one was a woman who decided to go back home after the only place we could offer her was in mid Wales which is a long way from home.

“This lady told me she had never been further than Barry and didn’t want to go so far away.

“Leaving the situation is the hardest part for these women – they are leaving everything behind and many who do leave and think they are going to go to a refuge in their own town or close by, so it is even harder for them.

“We desperately need more refuges to be set up,” she added.

Her comments were supported by Fiona Perkins from Monmouthshire Women’s Aid who described the situation as “a constant battle”.

“We are the only refuge for the whole of Monmouthshire and very often have to send women to other refuges, sometimes across the border to the Forest of Dean area,” she explained.

“Last year we had 398 requests for help but we couldn’t help all of those.”