Many women fleeing domestic violence find refuges can be inaccessible and unsuitable. In some cases, they cannot stay as they have an older male child with them or the support they need is simply not available. For some women, the choice is between staying in an abusive relationship or becoming homeless.
The Housing Solution
Through Rhea, we offer good quality, temporary housing and tailored support for women fleeing domestic violence. Commonweal provide eight houses to Solace Women’s Aid, our partners, who run the Rhea project. SWA work closely with Southwark Council to get referrals as soon as possible, helping to keep vulnerable women off the streets.
SWA provide low levels of tailored support that works with each woman on the project as an individual. Rhea is designed to allow women fleeing abuse to recover, while at the same time prevents them from becoming homeless. Rhea is designed to work with women moving towards independence.
Since the project began in 2017 we have helped SWA by providing houses and evaluation support, so that the project can be robust. As an action learning charity, we encourage partners to learn from the project and develop their project based on that learning. 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.
To find out more about the Rhea project, or to contact Solace Women’s Aid, visit their website: https://www.solacewomensaid.org/refuge-accommodation
Angela and her young daughter have been supported by the Rhea project since June 2017. For several years Angela suffered both physical and emotional abuse at the hands of a violent partner. Angela was frightened by the abuse, and kept her situation a secret from her family and friends. Exacerbated by excessive alcohol consumption and substance misuse, Angela’s partner became increasingly violent towards her. It was following the birth of her daughter that 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
Commonweal and Solace Women’s Aid’s Rhea project has been shortlisted for an award in the 24Housing Awards 2019.
Our response to the government’s announcement of funding for local councils to provide accommodation-based support for survivors of domestic abuse.
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