Our Refuge

As well as outreach support, Women’s Aid Orkney offers safe temporary refuge accommodation for women affected by domestic abuse.

What’s the refuge like?

We have 3 self-contained, fully furnished flats in our purpose built refuge accommodation. It includes a flat which has been adapted for people with limited mobility. We also have 2 calm and comfortable meeting rooms and a children’s & young people’s support room and sensory room, that is full of exciting resources and toys.

We strive to provide a warm and homely place for you to recover from your experience. You will have access to our lovely secure communal garden and you will be warmly welcomed into a secure and supportive environment.

We want you to feel at home here and most of all we want you and your family to feel safe. With that in mind, the refuge building is equipped with a secure entry system, CCTV and high garden fences. However, staff also ensure that your right to privacy is respected at all times and they treat your flat as they would your home – they do not have the right to just walk in.

I need somewhere safe to live, how can I access the refuge?

If you are affected by domestic abuse and need a safe place to go, you can contact us by phone or come down to the refuge Monday – Friday 9am – 4.30pm. For help outwith those hours, Orkney Islands Council may be able to assist.

But remember, in an emergency you should call 999 for assistance. The emergency services will also be able to support you to get in touch with us once you are safe.

What happens after I’ve contacted you?

When you get in touch with us, we will explain our confidentiality process and talk you through your options, including refuge accommodation. As part of this, we will look at risk assessments and safety planning so that we can decide together whether or not refuge is the best solution for you.

If you decide to move into refuge accommodation, then we will prepare the flat and go through the tenancy agreement with you. You can usually move in as early as that same day.

But if for any reason refuge is not an option, we will work closely with you and Orkney Islands Council to find alternative safe accommodation. You have a right to get accommodation on the same day as you leave your home because of domestic abuse.

If you choose to go into emergency housing, a private let, or stay with family or friends you can still receive support from our outreach worker.

What support is available in refuge

Support workers are based in an office within the refuge where they operate an open door policy so that women and children feel at ease about approaching them any time.

All women affected by domestic abuse can access 1:1 support for women in the privacy and calm of one of our meeting room. As a tenant, you will also have a support worker who can arrange these sessions for you to suit your preferences.

Children and young people (CYP) can also have 1:1 or sibling support sessions with our specialist CYP support workers in a meeting room designed with young people in mind. Their facilities include toys, sand trays and interesting and exiting resources so that they can explore and experiment. They even have a kitchen where they can cook and improve their confidence.

How long can I stay?

The short answer is there is no time limit.

Your support worker will work closely with you during your stay so that you can come to a decision together about when to move on to alternative accommodation. The length of the stay stay therefore depends on each individual’s needs and is about 6 months on average.

Help with moving on

When women and children do move on from the refuge their support worker can help with the practical bits of moving house and help you to get set up in your new home. Even after that, you and your family can continue to get practical and emotional support for as long as you feel you need it.