2017 - Present

Housing options for women fleeing domestic violence.

Project Overview

Rhea provides support and temporary accommodation to women and their children at risk of or made homeless after fleeing domestic violence. Providing housing and support, it has been designed to prepare them for independent living. The project is a partnership between Solace Women’s Aid, Southwark Council and Commonweal Housing.

The injustice

For many women fleeing domestic violence, access to refuge accommodation is either inappropriate or simply unavailable. Some may have older male children who aren’t allowed in women’s refuges, whilst others simply aren’t able to access the support they need to build their independence.


For this project Commonweal has provided eight houses and flats which are leased to Solace Women’s Aid. Project partner Solace Women’s Aid provide each woman on the project with a client led, tailored support plan to build their independence and move towards independent living. All of the women are Southwark Council referrals.

Delivering change through partnership

Throughout 2017/18 Commonweal has worked closely with Solace Women’s Aid, providing the right properties to develop the Rhea pilot. We have, through regular communication and support, facilitated an environment that encourages Solace Women’s Aid to develop Rhea and reflect on the learning from the project. To support this process, Commonweal will seek to appoint an independent expert to evaluate the project in the second half of 2018. Through the leasing of our properties and ongoing project management support, we will continue to give Solace Women’s Aid the space and freedom to seek out new, untested supportive solutions, whilst ensuring they capture key learning, impacts and challenges.

Case study:

Angela is a 36 years old and has a 14 month old daughter. They have been supported by the Rhea project since June 2017. For several years Angela had been subject to both physical and emotional abuse at the hands of a violent ex-partner. Frightened by the abuse, Angela kept her situation a secret from her family and friends. Exacerbated by excessive alcohol consumption and substance misuse, Angela’s ex-partner became increasing violent towards her. Following the birth of her daughter, Angela took the brave decision to flee the family home.

Traumatized by her experience, when Angela was referred to Rhea by Southwark Council she feared for her future and the future of her daughter. With the care and support of Solace Women’s Aid, Angela has begun her road to recovery. Building on the balance of independent living and long-arm support provided through the Rhea project, Angela has enrolled on an Access to Nursing Course and hopes to become a qualified nurse. Alongside her daughter Angela has begun to address her past experience, moving closer to the independent, capable women she deserves to be.

*Names have been changed