Refuge (United Kingdom charity)

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Refuge is a United Kingdom charity providing specialist support for women and children experiencing domestic violence. It was founded by Erin Pizzey. Refuge provides a national network of specialist services, including emergency refuge accommodation (refuges), community outreach, independent domestic violence advocacy (IDVAs), culturally specific services and a team of child support workers. Refuge also runs the Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline. he National Domestic Abuse Helpline is only available for women.

Founded in 1971 as Chiswick Women's Aid, it was the world's first safe house for women and children escaping domestic violence. Today Refuge is the largest domestic violence organisation in the United Kingdom.

On any given day, Refuge’s services supports thousands of women and children. The charity says it is committed to working towards a world where women and children can live in safety, free from fear.

Erin Pizzey set up a women's refuge in Belmont Terrace, Chiswick, London in 1971. She later opened a number of additional shelters, despite hostility from the authorities. She gained notoriety and publicity for setting up refuges by squatting, most notably in 1975 at the Palm Court Hotel in Richmond. Pizzey's work was widely praised at the time. In 1975, MP Jack Ashley stated in the House of Commons that "The work of Mrs. Pizzey was pioneering work of the first order. It was she who first identified the problem, who first recognised the seriousness of the situation and who first did something practical by establishing the Chiswick aid centre. As a result of that magnificent pioneering work, the whole nation has now come to appreciate the significance of the problem". Whilst being prosecuted by local authorities and appealing matters to the House of Lords, she was recognised for her work.

Chiswick Women's Aid was renamed Chiswick Family Rescue on March 31,1979) and then Refuge on March 5, 1993. Although Refuge traces its existence back to Chiswick Women's Aid, Erin Pizzey's name could not be found anywhere on the Refuge website for many decades. It was not until November 2, 2020 that Sandra Horley, the chief executive of Refuge since 1983, mentioned Erin Pizzey for the first time on the Refuge website in a press release on her retirement.

Erin Pizzey was not invited to the 50th anniversary celebration of the organisation that she founded.

See Also

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