Google translate Google translate
click to choose
Colour contrast Contrast
Font size Text size
Toggle search
  • Date: 11/04/2024

One refuge, 15 mums and 28 children - keeping residents secure and supported in domestic abuse safe accommodation

Service Manager, Nicola Edwards, has shared how Group-wide partnership working helps her to support residents living in Glow's domestic abuse safe accommodation services. Click here to read the full comment piece on Inside Housing. 

I wear a lot of hats in my role. In the morning, you might find me at a professional meeting, or safeguarding a family that has fled abuse. By the afternoon, I could be litter-picking to keep our outside areas clean, tidy and safe.

As a safe-accommodation manager, my job is varied. It’s about supporting families, but it’s also about building safety. This means managing our refuge and community properties and making sure that we are compliant.

Currently, we support 43 customers: 15 women and 28 children. With so many people, there can be challenges, so we have support from internal teams to keep everyone safe.

Being part of a group puts us in a unique position to seek the in-house expertise of our brands. We work with Staffs Housing, our fellow group brand and affordable housing provider, as our landlord for refuges and community homes across North Staffordshire. This partnership means that we can provide safe accommodation, which in turn enables families to flee domestic abuse and reach safety.

Nicola Edwards

We can also utilise the specialist knowledge and skills of other teams across the group, such as the bids and grants team, who secure funding for support projects and days out. If I need advice or have a question about health and safety, I’ll go to the Staffs Housing compliance team.

We have repairs and maintenance support from Unitas, Honeycomb’s repairs provider, and Revival’s handyperson service. I’ve also been lucky to have lots of help from the Staffs Housing gardening team, who are very supportive of our green spaces.

My team at the refuge provide their own specialist support, too. Families have often travelled miles, from other parts of the country, to flee abuse. This can be particularly difficult for children and young people, who have left everything familiar to reach safety. It’s a total upheaval of their lives, but a necessary one.

The settling-in period is key. We make sure they have everything they need, and work with our local contacts to get them enrolled in school and start receiving therapy. That’s really important to us, that children can have a voice and talk about their experiences.

From a compliance and health and safety perspective, good communication with families is essential, including highlighting house rules, which exist to keep residents, and the building they live in, safe. When families arrive, we’ll ask parents to sign them. It does sadly mean that we can’t have ball games, barbecues or paddling pools in the summer, anything that could potentially be a risk and cause injury.

Jessica Holland-Carr, Kerry Alcock, Nicola Edwards and Paula Meadows

Despite these rules, we still make sure that young people can have fun. We head off on day trips, such as the local park, or further afield to the seaside. It’s all about giving children the chance to actually be children, as well as strengthening that family bond between mother and child – all while keeping them safe, too.

Back at the refuge, with so many children around, it’s vital that the property is clean and tidy, with communal spaces and corridors clear at all times. I undertake regular compliance checks, including flat checks, to make sure appliances are all in working order and everything is as it should be. I also carry out fire alarm tests and building checks, where I walk around the outside of our refuge and community flats to make sure nothing is amiss.

I’m constantly looking for things that could cause an accident. With lots of young children around, it’s vitally important to me and my team to keep an eye on things and get any issues resolved as soon as possible.

It’s a lot of partnership working. I couldn’t do my job without the support of my team, internal Honeycomb Group staff and external partners. All of this comes together to have such a positive impact and make a real difference to the lives of those who we support.

We create a happy home while they are with us, and support and encourage them to find their own happy home once they move on.