Dundee Women’s Aid: Providing refuge when it’s most needed

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“Dundee has the highest incidence of domestic abuse in Scotland. The need for our services is growing. After the first lockdown, there was a 600% increase in requests for refuge spaces for women and children.”

Social Problem

A quarter of women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their life.[1] Many women are too afraid to leave in case their abuser finds them. Refuges provide a vital safe space, but there’s a severe shortage, meaning that women and children often have to go on a waiting list for help. What’s more, demand is increasing. Mary Miller, CEO of Dundee Women’s Aid, says, “The need for our services is growing, especially since the pandemic. After the first lockdown, there was a 600% increase in requests for refuge spaces for women and children.”


Dundee Women’s Aid offers one-to-one support and advice to women and young people experiencing domestic abuse. The charity manages a number of refuges across the city. These are fully furnished, one-family spaces, which are monitored by CCTV for safety. Women and children often arrive at a refuge with very few of their possessions, so they’re given a package of essentials, such as cleaning materials and toiletries.


The charity leases most of its properties, but it was struggling to find a property to let with more than three bedrooms, meaning that it couldn’t accept women with large families. The charity decided to buy a four-bed house. It managed to raise most of the money it needed, but the deadline to accept one of the largest grants was quickly approaching. If Dundee Women’s Aid couldn’t find the rest of the money in time, the grant would be withdrawn. Luckily, Mary contacted Charity Bank and we agreed a £65,000 loan. A family moved into the new property shortly after the purchase went through.

“The loans team at Charity Bank were there for us every step of the way. We could call them by Teams or send an email and they’d respond really quickly; our daft questions didn’t faze them!”

Mary Miller, CEO of Dundee Women’s Aid


It’s never easy to leave an abusive relationship, but Dundee Women’s Aid offers women and children the chance to make a fresh start, away from their abuser. Most women move on from the refuge into social housing within a few months, and the charity continues to support them until they are settled in their new community.

[1] https://www.ncdv.org.uk/domest....

“I think the house is great, it has everything we need. The kids are loving having their own space and also a garden. The location is great for us and the neighbourhood is also really nice - quiet and everyone keeps to themselves. We feel safe.”

Family in refuge

About Charity Bank

Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1,200 loans totalling over £450m to housing, education, social care, community and other social purpose organisations.

Find out more about us here.

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