East Dunbartonshire Women’s Aid aims to provide a secure, welcoming, comfortable and supportive environment for women and children who are made homeless because of abuse.
We also aim to provide a high standard of therapeutic and support services, which allow the women and children who come to us to recover from past experience of abuse and to go on to obtain permanent accommodation and build new lives for themselves.
These are the most commonly asked questions about coming into refuge:-
What kind of refuge accommodation could you offer me?
We currently provide refuge accommodation in Kirkintilloch and Bishopbriggs. Both buildings are custom-built and provide a mixture of private and communal accommodation, which provides families with their own private space, but within a secure and supportive environment.
view of back court of refuge
Each refuge has 5 self-contained flats (of varying sizes), a communal sitting/meeting room, an office for the refuge staff, a laundry and a playroom for the children. The Bishopbriggs refuge also has a room specifically for teenagers. Both refuges are furnished to the highest possible standards and have a controlled entry system to ensure the safety of refuge residents.
If we have accommodation available at the time when you are seeking refuge, you can expect to be allocated a self-contained flat within the refuge which is suitable for your needs and the number and ages of your children (if you have any).
If you or any of your children have a mobility or health problem, we have 3 ‘barrier-free’ flats on the ground floor which can accommodate wheelchairs and we will undertake to do our best to ensure that you are allocated one of these.
If both refuges are full at the point where you are seeking refuge, we would put your name on a waiting list and contact you as soon as a space became available. We would also offer to assist you in obtaining other temporary accommodation from the local authority and support you while you are waiting for a space in refuge.
What support can I expect to get in refuge?
Our aim is to provide a holistic and flexible service, which responds to the varying needs of the women and children involved and which empowers women to take control of their lives and to make decisions about their own futures.
We therefore offer support on a wide range of issues such as:-
• Obtaining legal protection from abuse
• Accessing benefits and money advice and debt services
• Obtaining permanent accommodation• Support with any problems re health, addiction or disability
• Support and advocacy with other agencies e.g. Housing, the Police, courts etc.
• Support with any concerns you may have about your children
• Opportunities for confidence building and personal development
Refuge staff are normally on hand during the day to discuss with you what kind of support you need and they can also make arrangements to see you outwith these hours .
A 24 hour telephone helpline is available 7 days a week should you need to talk to a worker e.g. in the case of an emergency at the refuge.
What support can my children expect in refuge?
East Dunbartonshire Women’s Aid is fortunate to have excellent facilities and a dedicated support worker for children and young people in both of our refuges.
As well as day to day support and the provision of therapeutic play sessions, the children’s support workers assist the children and young people in settling into new schools, where required, and assist the children with any problems they may have with settling into their new environment.
They also ensure that the refuge is a safe and stimulating environment for children.
Most importantly, it is the role of the children’s workers to ensure that time spent in refuge is a positive experience for the children and young people who stay with us and they do this through the provision of one-to-one sessions, play-sessions, outings, birthday parties etc.
childrens playroom in refuge
What is it like living in a refuge?
As far as possible, we want you to consider the refuge as your own home for the time you are living there. You will have your own personal space, be responsible for looking after your own flat and maintaining the security of the building and doing your own shopping and cooking.
Staff are on hand to provide you with support. We would expect you to meet with your support worker on a regular basis in order to ensure we are meeting all your support needs.
Many women enjoy the opportunity to meet with other women who have shared similar experiences, however, if you prefer quiet time on your own we will respect your wish.
What about visitors?
Refuges are designed to provide a safe and secure environment for women, children, young people and the staff who work there. Maintaining the confidentiality of refuge residents is paramount so that, with regret, we are unable to allow visitors to the refuge, with the exception of professional workers who need to visit. However, you are free to come and go as and when you like, as you would in your own home. We only ask that you let us know if you are intending to be away from the refuge overnight (this is due to fire regulations).
How long can I stay in refuge?
Refuge is temporary accommodation and we will try to assist you in obtaining more permanent accommodation, whether that is a council tenancy or accommodation in the private sector.
The Council has a legal obligation to offer you suitable accommodation but you can normally expect only one offer. If you decide not to take this offer, we will expect you to find alternative accommodation within a short period of a few weeks.
You are free to give up the accommodation at any time, whether this is to take up other accommodation or to return home. You can still continue to access our support service, even if you are not in refuge.
Can I bring my pets?
It may be possible to allow you to bring an existing pet into refuge, but this will be discussed on an individual basis.
Are there any other refuge rules?
The use of non-prescription drugs and alcohol is prohibited in refuge.
Smoking is prohibited in the office and in all communal accommodation within the refuge. However, refuge residents may smoke in their own flats.
A full copy of our ‘Refuge Rules and Responsibilities’ is available in the office for further information and you will be issued with this if you decide to take up a place.
Can I get support after I leave the refuge?
Yes, our Follow-on support workers will continue to provide you with support after you have left refuge. You will also be invited to take part in our Follow-on support group activities.
What have other women said about the refuge service?
‘I thought the refuge would be overcrowded with lots of sad women and children, vying for space and attention, shared kitchens and lounge, and even a bit grubby if I’m perfectly honest. In fact, the refuge was excellent. I can’t praise it enough. We were made to feel welcome, safe and secure and were treated with the utmost kindness.’
‘Thank you so much for your kindness to me and the kids. I’m so grateful to be here and have the chance to turn my life around. I couldn’t do it without your support. ‘
'Many thanks for all your support. You really were a godsend. The service you provide is outstanding. You’ve enabled us to re-start our lives comfortably. We’re forever in your debt’.
'Staff behave not just in a very professional, polite and respectful manner, they also put their hearts into the work that they do. They really care about every single woman and child. They make us feel very special, happy, protected and secure when we need this more than anything else in our lives.’
'Thank you so much for helping me and supporting me and believing in me when I needed it most.’
‘It was such a surprise to have such a clean, private and safe space to myself. I expected more communal living and at the time I wanted privacy, which I got.’
‘It was lovely to be given everything that you needed. It made a difference because I was a bit of a wreck and I just couldn’t face people.’
‘Very comfortable. Your own personal haven. Free from mental abuse and alcohol. I slept for ten hours my first night – had not done that for a long time.’
‘I found understanding about my situation, compassion, and staff acted immediately to meet my needs, which made me feel able to cope with my situation.