The Transformative Power of Environments on Survivors’ Recovery

A refuge is so much more than just a roof over a woman’s head

At the beginning of the year Refuge won a bid to develop its first psychologically informed refuge service in Westminster, London. The service comprises five refuges which support 35 single women or families at any one time. As we develop this service we have been giving much thought to creating an environment in the refuges which provides a culture of well-being and a sense of physical and emotional safety for clients and staff.

Our specialist staff have consulted women about the refuge environment – with a view to transforming these temporary homes to be as welcoming, safe and supportive as possible. Initial feedback from survivors explained that the way information was displayed in the houses made them feel more institutional than homely, so we have worked to find other ways to communicate key information and fill the house walls with art and pictures, homely comfortable furniture – especially good quality beds. Colour schemes have also been chosen carefully in an effort to create a welcoming, tranquil environment.

Working in partnership with our corporate fundraising team we have secured additional support for the service thanks to John Lewis & Partners generosity. The community team at John Lewis & Partners, Oxford Street, have gone above and beyond in their efforts to support this service which culminated in a £10,000 grant to spend on furnishings. Residents are delighted with this fabulous award.

Thanks to McGlashan’s Interiors, a London-based, family business, owned and lead by Andrea McGlashan, many other furnishings have been donated. Andrea’s hands on support has transformed the refuges to become beautiful welcoming homes which has been much appreciated by all the residents.

This project is work in process and will evolve over time as we continue to consult with women to ensure we create the most welcoming and supportive environment as we possibly can.

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