Supporting those in need of refuge

A non-traditional refuge supported by Sovereign marks its first anniversary today, Tuesday 5 February, a year after it opened its doors in North Dorset.

You First, YOU’s Hidden Violence and Abuse Services is a unique, innovative project that provides a safe space for those unable to access a traditional refuge.

The project supports and provides refuge to men and to women with teenage boys (over the age of 15) as well as LGBTQ+ couples and couples fleeing Honour-Based Violence. 

Over the past 12 months, the refuge has received more than 30 referrals for accommodation. Significantly, the service has provided safe housing for men escaping domestic abuse, including those in same sex relationships and those who identify under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.

Helen Hann, Sovereign Housing Divisional Director, said: “We’re delighted that the YOU Trust is providing such a valuable service in North Dorset and that so many families and individuals have been supported with safe and secure accommodation, regardless of sex or gender, thanks to this initiative.

“This site emphasises Sovereign’s commitment to working with valued partners in the provision of housing for people with specific support needs. We’ll continue to work closely with the YOU Trust and other providers in the future.”

Reflecting on the difference that the service has made, residents jointly stated: “Everyone matters. You’re not alone. Everyone feels as if they are valued, regardless of who you are. It gave us hope.”

Katie Bielec, Service Manager for You First Dorset said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity for those who are experiencing domestic abuse and need to leave their homes. We have been incredibly lucky to have such support from our partner agencies and the community to run this refuge. We are proud of the work we have achieved. Without this provision, our clients may have had to stay in an abusive home facing escalating risk.”