South Asian Women's Refuge represented by Kulvinder Dhaliwal and Vanda Ursell

Stonewater's South Asian Women's Refuge (SAWR) won a Women in Housing Award 2019 for Improving the Lives of Women or Communities (large).

Kulvinder Dhaliwal, Project Worker and Vanda Ursell, Project Coordinator proudly accepted the award on behalf of SAWR.

Tell us about your journey at Stonewater

South Asian Women's Refuge


I was privileged to be a team member when SAWR first opened their doors to our first customers in 2008. My passion has always been to make a difference in peoples lives. I have been involved in supported housing projects and dealt with vulnerable customers for many years.

My role has developed and evolved over the years. I enjoy being a part of the unique and customer focused delivery at SAWR. I particularly enjoy achieving positive outcomes for our customers. Even after 11 years, I am learning something new every day as there are always new challenges as each customer brings unique issues, as we are so diverse and each individual needs one to one support. No two days are ever the same.

At SAWR we regard our role to deliver customer support & care in an effective way with a view to empower our customers. Their strength becomes ours.


I have been blessed to have started at SAWR since Jan 2019, as a new member of the team it has been a delight lifting the profile for this project. The work that is carried out here is nothing less than outstanding.

I have worked in many different areas of supported housing for a large amount of my career, specialising in Domestic Abuse along the way. I have been able to work myself up from a support officer to management which I believe enables me to be able to support both customers and staff, and make a difference to all.

Tell us about your roles and why their important to you


My responsibility as a coach is to focus on our customers who have fled domestic abuse, forced marriage, honour based violence and modern slavery. My role is to support their journey to recovery, safety and to assist in bringing normality and security back into their lives.

SAWR has achieved an Outstanding A rating in our QAF (Quality Assessment Framework). I feel proud to be part of this team in achieving and maintaining such standards.

My greatest satisfaction has been in seeing many of our customers grow in confidence, becoming independent, and seeing them re-valuing themselves with our support so that they are able to make their own life choices, free from abuse, fear and control. Stonewater and the SAWR team have all been very supportive in the work being delivered collectively.


My responsibility as project co-ordinator is to manage 2 services, 1 - refuge and 2 - move on refuge. The customers we support have fled abuse that includes modern day slavery and honour-based abuse. I oversee the support from the coaches to ensure the recovery and safety of the customer’s is put first at all times.

I am able to watch the customer’s grow in confidence, self-esteem and become independent and watch as their new life starts from the day they arrive.

As project co-ordinator I have introduced many activities, ensuring all outcomes are met. We have a Mental Health Councillor which the customers are able to see from the first day of arrival. This is a male councillor, which has been essential to our customers, ensuring their mental health needs are supported aswell as the customers understanding that men can also warm and encouraging.

How did it feel for SAWR to win a Women in Housing award?


I felt so proud and humbled that such a small team at SAWR have contributed to so many lives being changed for the positive. The win for such a major award is both very exciting and daunting at the same time.


SAWR has already received 2 outstanding As for QAF from our commissioners since opening, and I am grateful to be a part of such an outstanding team.

I am so proud that I am able to be a part of our customer’s new journey and am well supported by the managers above me. I am privileged to be a part of the management team that empowers their staff to keep on wanting to achieve, SAWR is only a small part of a truly outstanding company, but it is recognised and there is support for the project to continue flourishing.

Where do you see your role in the future?


As long as there is a need, and I am able to make a difference to our customer’s journeys from the abyss to their new lives by empowering them to build a real future for themselves, I will carry on doing what I can within the organisation. I hope that customers and Stonewater alike become stronger year on year. I would like to progress within the organisation moving forward and be part of the continued growth.