Key Unlocking Futures
Key Unlocking Futures

Jayne's BLOG

Jayne's BLOG

Jayne Allison, Key's Business Development Manager writes about her recent visit to the Women's Refuge and about the courageous women she met there

It was a really beautiful sunny day and I was meeting with some residents from the refuge to talk to them about their experience of living there.  The reason Key likes to do this is because it enables us to share individual stories that are impactful which can help us to source new business or funding opportunities.  The other reason we do this is to ensure we are providing good quality services and to find out whether there are areas for us to improve on.  Our senior management team and Trustees like to know what Key Charity is doing well and what we need to do better.


Sarah and Katy agreed to talk to me together and we decided to sit outside on the bench in the communal garden.  They said it was a rare opportunity to sit outside in the sunshine quietly today as they would only usually get a chance to do this in the evenings but it would be busy with children running around and there would be other mums and families there too.


Clare House is a Women’s refuge in South Ribble.  Women of all ages come here to source safe housing either alone or with their children.  The accommodation is modest 1 or two bedroom bedsits within a self-contained building.  Staff here are very experienced and caring but most importantly Clare House is a safe space for the women to live while they work out their next steps, in a protective environment.


Sarah and Katy agreed all the women there have shared experiences but each situation is unique.  More often than not they will choose to have alone time with their children.  Being around too many people can sometimes be overwhelming.  Children want to play with other children and clearly they provide comfort for each other.  When Katy’s daughter arrives home from nursery often Sarah’s children will be waiting to greet her at the door.


Just as the parents have shared experiences so do the children.  The difference being the innocence of the younger child they are not aware of the reasons they live here often believing they are on holiday. They are happy to play with other children at every given opportunity or take part in arranged activities run by the Children’s Worker at Clare House. 


Alone in their rooms it can sometimes feel enclosed and claustrophobic at times for both parent and child and naturally children have to be supervised wherever they go and therefore the activities put on by the Children’s Worker can provide short respite during these difficult times.


A difficult question can be when their children ask ‘when are we going home?’ and both women tell me this is hard to deal with.  It can bring up feelings of guilt that they have moved their children away from home.  They remind themselves it is for the children that they found the strength to come here and things will get better once they get their own place to call home again.


Katy said the first weeks were the most difficult trying to adjust to their new living arrangements.  So many rules to get your head around since you’re sharing facilities with other families but also because the refuge have a responsibility to keep everyone safe and she understands  that and is very grateful. 


Katy feels she wouldn’t have coped had she gone straight to another property.  This stay at Clare House has given her time to adjust mentally and prepare for her next steps she told me,


 ‘I am also grateful for this time because if I’d moved straight into my own property I couldn’t have done it.  I’ve been working from my room whilst my daughter has been with me it’s been so hard on her.  I’ve managed to get her in nursery and for the last few weeks having a routine has been great for her she is thriving’.


Remote working while living at Clare House has sometimes proved difficult for Katy but her employer has been very supportive.  She is struggling to get move on accommodation though because she isn’t considered high priority in the area she wants to live.  She needs to try and get a private rented property but these are in high demand, rents are high and she is struggling.


Katy told me,

 ‘People can make assumptions about the type of character you are because you live in a refuge they think you are a certain type of person. I am a working mum who suffered abuse at the hands of my partner and my child was being neglected when I was at work.  I left to build a better life for us both.' 


Sarah has been allocated a property after a wait of almost 5 months.  She is looking forward to getting a new home for her and her children.  She does worry about moving on but says staying at the refuge has provided her with the time to prepare. 


 ‘Staff pick up on the little things and they noticed when I was feeling down.  They helped with my mental health to talk through stuff, they’ve sorted absolutely everything for me helped me be a better parent. I feel like I’m in a community where everyone looks out for each other. I’m not alone’.  


We spent a good couple of hours chatting in the sunshine that day.  I was absolutely blown away by their strength and courage and I am full of admiration for them both. I really enjoyed our conversation.  I felt emotional too it brought up stuff from my own past that I thought had long dealt with. There are also some practical suggestions that I have discussed with the Refuge Manager to make possible improvements and enhance the offer to residents at Clare House.


Both Katy and Sarah know there are still challenges ahead but are safe and have support.  They are both survivors of Domestic Abuse.


What should I do if someone I know is suffering domestic abuse?

If you are suffering from abuse at home or you know someone who is, please call our domestic abuse helpline to speak to an advisor in confidence on 01772 435865. The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Speak to us by the live chat facility on this page or text us on 07790971237, available between 10 am and 4 pm, Monday to Friday, alternatively email us at


To refer to our Domestic Abuse Outreach Service please email: or contact us on 01772 435865.


For more information please visit: