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New partnership opens refuge for migrant women survivors of gender-based violence

03 September 2020

New partnership opens refuge for migrant women survivors of gender-based violence

We've supported Safety4Sisters North West in partnership with Salford Women’s Aid to open Abonsh House, a new dedicated refuge service for migrant women survivors of gender-based violence with no recourse to public funds.

Safety4Sisters have championed the needs of migrant women for the last 10 years and provide specialist advocacy and group support. Thanks to this new partnership, they now also have a new dedicated refuge service for highly vulnerable women who are unable to access welfare and housing benefits.

Women Against Homelessness And Abuse (2019) A Roof, Not a Home found that 4 out of 5 Black and minoritised survivors are turned away from refuges and Safety4Sisters reported a staggering 73% of the Black and minority ethnic migrant women referred to their project during lockdown were unable to access refuge space as a direct result of having no recourse to public funds forcing many to remain in abusive households, sofa surf, live in precarious or exploitative housing and even survive on the streets.

Lynne Fanthome, chairwoman of Safety4Sisters said “We are pleased to announce the launch of Abonsh House, a specialist refuge for migrant women with no recourse to public funds, based in Greater Manchester. This group of women are some of the most vulnerable in our society, subject to gender-based violence, they are often refused access to the lifesaving refuge support services and housing due to their immigration status. This refuge represents the wider human rights struggle of migrant women to achieve equality in protection, safety and justice from violence against women and girls, which Safety4Sisters has spearheaded for some ten years. In the turbulent contexts of austerity, Brexit, anti-migrant discourse, rise of far-right racism and under pandemic conditions, Safety4Sisters have redoubled our commitment and determination to uphold the rights of migrant women. We work to ensure that all women are protected from violence regardless of immigration status. We thank Salford Women’s Aid and Irwell Valley Homes for working in partnership with us to progress this new step for Safety4Sisters and advance our vision for women’s freedom.”

Dawn Redshaw CEO of Salford Women’s Aid said “We are so proud to be supporting this essential service. I have worked alongside Safety4Sisters for many years and I am astounded at the support they offer in the face of adversaries and more so the resilience of the women they support who are the most vulnerable and destitute within our society today. This provision is much needed, and I hope it reminds others of the challenges women face and the need to carry on supporting each other”

Sasha Deepwell, Chief Executive of Irwell Valley Homes added: "We believe that everyone has the right to a safe place to live. Whilst for many of us our home has been a sanctuary over the last few months, for others, it has been a very dangerous place. During lockdown there has been a significant increase in domestic violence, that's why we are so grateful to be working in partnership with Safety4Sisters and Salford Women's Aid to provide the building for this crucial service at a time when there has never been a greater need for it.

She added: "As a housing association we have supported some of the most vulnerable people across Greater Manchester for nearly 50 years. Providing homes with specialist support for people with dementia, mental health issues, learning and physical disabilities, and those who have been made homeless or have experienced domestic violence. This latest project will provide the sanctuary, shelter, hope and support that is so badly needed to enable people to safely move on with their lives."