Bromley and Croydon Women’s Aid (BCWA), a domestic abuse charity and a registered supported housing provider, has received a social investment loan of £2.75 million from Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC).
The loan from SASC’s Social and Sustainable Housing fund (SASH) will allow BCWA to purchase 11 residential properties for use as supported housing. These properties will range from one to three bedrooms and can accommodate 11 women and their children moving on from refuge.
Founded as Bromley Women’s Aid in 1974, the charity merged with Croydon Women’s Aid in 2011 and became BCWA. They provide safe accommodation for any woman and her children (boys under the age of 12) who is experiencing domestic abuse, or who is at risk of abuse.
The charity receives referrals from a wide range of services including social services, police, probation services, GPs and other domestic abuse charities. In the year to March 2021
BCWA received 2,395 referrals and supported 2,171 women across the boroughs. A woman typical stays in a refuge 6 months.
The new properties will add to BCWA’s existing supported housing operation which covers nine refuge properties across both boroughs (54 bed spaces in total) and provide essential housing and support services for women and their children fleeing from domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse will affect 1 in 4 women in their lifetime. It leads to, on average, two women being murdered each week . The number of households being made homeless because they were fleeing domestic abuse has risen by more than a third in England since the start of the pandemic, according to Government figures in January 2022 .
In addition to accommodation and support services, the charity also provides a One Stop Shop service where people experiencing domestic abuse can get free advice from police, BCWA outreach, solicitors, housing options and victim support; plus they offer complimentary services in the community in partnership with other agencies, for young people, LGBTQ+ people and those without recourse to public funds.
Constanze Sen, CEO at BCWA said, “In an ideal world we would like to see the need for refuges diminish completely, but sadly they are essential safe havens for many women. Women often arrive traumatised, with many having suffered physical violence or emotional torture for years. We provide housing, safety and support services to help them get back on their feet. Taking on the loan from SASC will enable us to help many more women and children to recover from trauma and we will be able to build a more sustainable financial future for the charity through property ownership.”
Ben Rick, Co-Founder and CEO of SASC said, “BCWA is a well-established charity with close links with the two local borough councils and other agencies working with people experiencing domestic violence. They have built a strong portfolio of support contracts from various funding sources in recent years, which have been regularly renewed.
“We’ve invested in other charities working with domestic abuse victims including Hull Women’s Network and Valley House to enable them to buy properties. Having a safe place to go is vital in helping people escape and hope that this loan will enable BCWA to build on its work and provide accommodation and support to more women and children in need.”
For more information on Bromley and Croydon Women’s Aid visit: www.bcwa.org.uk