My name is Katie and I work in the family refuge.  No two days are ever the same and you can never go into work with a plan of action.

When we have space in refuge a lot of time is taken to complete thorough referrals and risk assessments.  It’s not something that can be rushed and for many, it is the first time that they have chosen to speak of the abuse.  The hardest part of my job is having to decide who is in priority need of the refuge space when there is more than one referral.  It is very hard having to inform someone that I cannot offer the place to them after listening to the details of their stories.  When this does happen we do try to signpost them so that they can get the support they need.

                                   

When someone first comes into refuge, I don’t like to overload them with too much information as it is very daunting coming into a communal living building.  There seems to be a misconception of refuge and I have heard many times women say how it’s nothing how they thought it’s going to be and its actually okay.  I like to give a quick show round and then leave them to get themselves settled and to gather their thoughts.  I advise all women the same thing, in that the first two weeks are the hardest as it is often like a roller-coaster of emotions.  Some days you’ll feel on top of the world and others you will doubt what you are doing.

Our aim is to fill the women who come in with power and independence.  For many they have lost this and it takes time to get the ability to make decisions for themselves again.  Sometimes we advise women on what their options are but we never make choices for them as this is part of gaining their independence back.  We assist to ensure that they are in receipt of benefits, assist with housing applications and to gain legal orders.

We have weekly support session to identify any support needs or outstanding tasks that need completing although sometimes it’s just for a chat.

The best part of my job is when a family is leaving refuge because they have their permanent accommodation.  It’s amazing to see the change in confidence of a woman.  The women do not give themselves enough credit, they are probably taught they should not...  Quite often a woman does not feel that she is strong enough to get through it, but while she is doing so.  This is where emotional support comes in as sometimes you just need to reinforce that what you are saying is right.

I’d be lying if I said that you don’t build bonds with the women that live in refuge as there isn’t a single woman that I will forget.  It is one of the hardest journeys these women will face in their life and I hope that I can ease the process as much as possible and hopefully have a few laughs along the way.