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Date published: 19 June 2024

Bella Sankey, Leader of Brighton & Hove Council, told how ‘dedicated’ Stonewater staff have created a ‘nurturing environment’ for women and children living at the Brighton and Hove Refuge.

The Brighton and Hove Refuge provides safe accommodation for women and their children fleeing domestic abuse through qualified managers and coaches of Safelives, a specialist domestic abuse charity. It has accommodated 98 survivors of domestic abuse over the last three years, with over half continuing to receive support from Stonewater as they resettle in the city. 

The Labour council leader was joined by Paul Nann, who sits on the Health & Scrutiny and Housing & New Homes Committees, and Leslie Pumm, Chair of the Equalities, Community Safety & Human Rights Committee during the visit on April 19 2024.

The group talked to residents about their experiences and how they have been receiving tailored specialist support to rebuild their lives since arriving at the refuge.

Bella said: "I heard directly from women and their children about their experiences, and it's heartwarming to see how nurturing they find this environment. They've expressed how they've been able to find some peace amidst their turmoil and start transitioning to new lives. It's truly inspiring to witness their resilience firsthand."

“Speaking with the staff has been enlightening. They are truly dedicated, doing everything they can within their resources to provide the best possible environment for women who have fled abuse. Their commitment to ensuring safety and support is commendable, and it's evident that they genuinely care about the well-being of the residents. It's imperative that we prioritise and protect services like these."

Brighton and Hove Refuge provides fifteen furnished self-contained flats including ground floor flats for women with mobility issues. Residents benefit from spaces developed with recovery and safety in mind, including areas equipped with toys for children to play and a large garden.

Residents can attend workshops, therapies, and one-to-one support sessions, as well as having access to the Brighton and Hove BME Capacity Building Programme, providing specialist support for domestic abuse survivors from ethnic minorities.

Helena Doyle, Stonewater’s Customer Experience Director, Wellbeing and Support, said: “We are incredibly pleased that our local councillors and Leader of the Council could come along to the refuge, and grateful to them for taking the time to meet the wonderful staff and residents there.

“We are all in agreement that services like this need to be protected and valued. Not only do they offer women fleeing abuse the holistic support services they need to rebuild their lives, but these vital spaces provide a safe and welcoming home where they and their children can recover from the trauma they have faced and spend time with others in similar situations.”

Stonewater provides several specialist refuges and safe spaces across the country, providing staffed accommodation, intensive support, advice and referrals as well as groups aimed at recovery and skills building.