What is a refuge?

A refuge is a safe house where women or men and their children, who are experiencing domestic abuse, can stay on a temporary basis. The Elm Foundation has four refuges - three for women and one dedicated to men, offering a total of 25 family bed spaces.


The aim of refuge accommodation is to empower residents, through support and advice so that they can successfully move on to independent living, free from abuse.

We have three women’s refuges in the area, which provide rooms for 22 women and their children. The Elm Foundation also has a refuge for men; this has three rooms, one of which can accommodate children, too.

We understand how terrifying it must be to even consider leaving your home, your belongings, possibly also your job, family and friends, to stay in a refuge with strangers, which is why this option is often a last resort. 

Our aim is to empower the people who engage our help, so that they regain control of their lives. It’s often easier to do this when surrounded by the familiar. It may take a number of weeks, months or years to leave or change your situation. What’s important is that you do what’s right for you, when it’s right for you to do it. Everyone’s circumstances are different.

Watch the video below to find out more


Free confidential counselling

What is a refuge?

Life in refuge

The Elm Foundation’s refuge accommodation provides family rooms. One of our refuges is adapted for disabled access with ground floor bedrooms and en-suite wet rooms. Some of our accommodation offers en-suite bathrooms whilst others have communal facilities.


They all have living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms and playrooms, which are shared with other refuge residents. There are no expectations placed on residents to use the communal facilities - you can be as self-contained or as sociable as you want to be.


Residents are expected to cook and clean for themselves and their children. We also have a rota for the cleaning of communal areas. 


All residents are required to sign a licence agreement, which includes rules such as payment of rent, confidentiality and the use of drugs or alcohol, etc., to ensure the safety of all residents.

Who can go to refuge?

Any woman or man fleeing domestic abuse can go into a refuge at any time, regardless of their marital status, race, religion, sexuality, age, nationality, disability, or whether or not they have children.


A risk assessment will need to be carried out to ensure the refuge they are going to is secure and a ‘safe’ distance away from any areas where their abuser has connections.

How can I be accepted into a refuge?


You can call Derbyshire Domestic Abuse Helpline number on 08000 198 668, or the Freephone National 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. You will be supported to leave your current home safely and refuge accommodation will be found for you.


You should be able to go into refuge on the same day you complete the referral process, which consists of providing your name, the ages of any children, a safe contact number, and details about the domestic abuse. Refuge space can’t usually be booked in advance and it isn’t always possible to find available accommodation in an area of your choice.


When refuge accommodation has been found for you, a member of staff from The Elm Foundation will discuss how you can get there. They won’t give you the address and location of the refuge until you arrive at a pre-arranged location.