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The UK’s largest provider of services for women experiencing domestic violence has opened a specialist service in Kingston.

Refuge-Kingston recently took over the contract for accommodation for female victims of gender-based violence in the borough, with the service being funded by the council.

The service can provide a safe space to live for up to 15 women at a time, along with their children, including five spaces specifically tailored for south Asian women.

Support available to users will include advice on housing, education, accessing benefits, health, employment or immigration, as well as counselling to overcome what has often been years of physical and emotional abuse, as well as expert child support.

Refuge-Kingston will also offer a rent deposit scheme to help women after they leave the centre to help them secure homes, which can often prove to be a huge challenge.

Chief executive of Refuge Sandra Horley CBE said: “Refuge is delighted to be providing a refuge service in Kingston. We are grateful to the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames for funding the service, and for its continued dedication to providing specialist, safe accommodation specifically.

“It is essential that women and children forced to flee violence have access to refuges. Those in danger will always need a safe place to turn. Thanks to the Council, Refuge can provide that safe place – together, we will save and change lives.”

Councillor Hugh Scantlebury, portfolio holder for community safety and voluntary sector commissioning, said: "It is the council's duty to support and protect people. Everyone has the right to live their life free from fear and violence and no one should feel trapped in a desperate situation out of concern for their future economic or social wellbeing.

"The council understands that survivors of domestic violence need more than just physical shelter; they also need the support and expertise that enables them to start over, and rebuild their lives.

"Refuge is a pioneer of this type of holistic support and we are delighted that they are bringing their services to the borough, which will build on the very solid foundation Hestia helped to develop."

For support and information, visit refuge.org.uk.

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