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St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge Support Update

Tea Coffee for Women's RefugeAt the end of June Soroptimist Club Members met Liz Perry, one of the Managers of the St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge on Zoom. SAHWR provides specialist domestic abuse support services in our area. The full report is below. Liz was able to thank us for our donation of tea, coffee etc (see the photo). Normally when me meet face to face we are able to bring our donations of tea and coffee to Club meetings, but in the current circumstances we agreed to purchase a good supply from a wholesaler. Liz always says there is no situation in the Refuge that can’t be improved by a sit down with a cup of tea. Donations of household items for new womens refugeLiz was also able to inform us about a new 5 bedroom refuge opening in September in Hemel Hempstead. Jean Eaton, our Club liaison with the refuge put out a call for bedding, towels, kitchen utensils, crockery – and soon her spare bed was fully laden (see photo), thanks to the generosity of our Members and friends. In the end there were 2 car loads and Jean said “It has been  a joy to me the amount of stuff donated which I am sure will be very much appreciated, thank you.”

Following our Zoom Health event in June we were able to donate £450 to the St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge

St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge COVID-19 Update. When the UK first went into lockdown the Refuge was just getting daily visits from staff but it became apparent that the clients needed more support than this. There is now a member of staff on site every day from 9am to 2pm. At the start of lockdown clients could not be moved on to temporary or permanent accommodation but they can now. When a client vacates a room it has to be left for 72 hours before it can be cleaned for the next occupant – this is creating a lack of Refuge space. In addition to the adults, they currently have 22 children at the Refuge from 6 weeks old to 16 years – fortunately, they have 2 in-house child support workers. The Refuge had 1 client with the virus at the start – the woman was contained in her room for 14 days and no-one else was infected.

All of the outreach workers have been working from home – including doing triage and court support work online. Some clients and workers gain more from online working than others – it has its pluses and minuses.

The Triple R Programme – Recognition, Recovery, Resilience is being conducted online (this programme has replaced the Freedom Programme which we have supported in the past). Triple R is a therapy based Domestic Abuse programme which has three aims: To enable victim/survivors to Recognise the abuse and its impacts on them and their children. To enable them to Recover from the abuse and support their children to do so. To develop Resilience by building on their strengths and addressing challenges in order to build a better sustainable safe future for themselves and their families. Some clients really like having this therapy session online, but for some face to face would be better.The Refuge needs more funding (always) and thanked Soroptimists for our support, not just financially but with supplies of team and coffee too.

Jean asked how else we can help and says: if when we are buying that extra packet of tea or jar of coffee we could also get a bottle of shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste or toothbrushes, that would be good. I am sure we can do that (please not the small bottles that we purloin from hotel rooms). If you are able to get any stuff and need to off load it before we meet again (cue for a song?)  let me know and I will collect it. Otherwise if you can keep it for our first “proper” meeting.