Hestia opens first emergency refuge accommodation for victims of domestic abuse during coronavirus lockdown

Crisis charity Hestia, one of the largest providers of domestic abuse refuges in London, has opened the first emergency refuge for female victims of domestic abuse fleeing their home during the coronavirus pandemic. It is the first of its kind to open since Britain was placed into lockdown.

The 12-bed accommodation, based in the London Borough of Westminster, is funded by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and forms part of Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s wider emergency response to support victims of domestic abuse.

The opening of the new refuge comes after downloads of Hestia’s Bright Sky app, which provides support and information to those experiencing domestic and those concerned about someone they know, increased by almost 50% since Britain’s lockdown began. The Met Police also recorded a nine per cent increase in domestic abuse-related incidents compared with the same time period last year.

Hestia’s new refuge accommodation will provide a place of safety and security to both single women and women fleeing abusive relationships with their children. When a woman or family arrives at the refuge, they will have access to food and other essentials, as well as be provided with vital, person-centred support to enable them to recover to a life beyond crisis.

In response to the rising number of victims looking to seek support, Hestia’s UK SAYS NO MORE campaign last week launched ‘Safe Spaces’ with Boots UK. The scheme enables victims of domestic abuse to ask to use consultation rooms at Boots UK pharmacies, where they will be able to contact national helplines and find local support services. The scheme, alongside the opening of the new refuge accommodation, is part of Hestia’s response to domestic abuse in the time of coronavirus.

Aneta Mularczyk, Manager for Hestia’s Domestic Abuse Services, said:

“During the COVID-19 lockdown we have seen an increased number of people trying to find support through our Bright Sky app. We anticipate a surge in women seeking refuge once lockdown is lifted and more women are able to make contact with specialist support services. There has never been a more important time for more refuge spaces than right now. We are pleased that Hestia is able, with support from the Mayor of London, to provide a place of safety and support for victims across the city and to help them to rebuild their lives free from violence.”


Notes to editor:

  • This week, the Mayor announced a £1.5 million funding investment in safe accommodation for those needing to flee their homes.

  • Funding for the accommodation service will last for a minimum of three months, with the potential for an extension based on the need for the service.

  • Hestia is one of the largest providers of domestic abuse refuges in London

  • Last year, Hestia supported 2,225 people to recover from the trauma of domestic abuse

  • Hestia’s Bright Sky app is a free to download app which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.

  • Hestia currently operates domestic abuse refuges in ten London boroughs: Croydon, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Merton, Kensington and Chelsea, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster

  • Met police: The number of recorded domestic abuse incidents has seen a year-on-year rise – there were 17,275 incidents recorded between 9 March and 19 April; a 9% increase on the same period in 2019.

About Hestia

For 50 years, Hestia has provided support and hope every step of the way of recovery. Today, millions of people are experiencing domestic abuse, modern slavery and challenges with their mental health. Hestia believes no-one should suffer alone. Together, we can make sure people find a life beyond crisis.

At Hestia we support adults and children in times of crisis. We deliver services across London and the surrounding regions, as well as campaign and advocate nationally on the issues that affect the people we work with. Last year we supported 10,766 men, women and children. This includes victims of modern slavery, women and children who have experienced domestic abuse, young care leavers and older people. From giving someone a home, to helping them to get the right mental health support, we support people at the moment of crisis and enable them to build a life beyond a crisis. We are supported by nearly 600 volunteers across London who provide specialist skills such as art therapy, yoga, IT, gardening and cooking, as well as befriending and fundraising.


About Hestia’s UK SAYS NO MORE Campaign

UK SAYS NO MORE is the UK’s national awareness and prevention campaign for domestic abuse and sexual violence. Launched in 2016, UK SAYS NO MORE unites and strengthens a diverse community of 350+ partners under one powerful symbol, providing open-source tools, information and resources for individuals and organisations to get involved. 160 Parliamentarians signed our Charter on Prevention in 2018, ensuring inclusivity for all victims in the domestic abuse bill. Together, we are creating partnership-based solutions to change the societal narrative towards domestic abuse and sexual violence. 

For more information on the Safe Spaces scheme with Boots UK, head to uksaysnomore.org/safespaces