Refuge now sitting comfortably thanks to Northumberland Freemasons

18th August 2023

The Richard Henry Homes Fund was recently approached by two very small charities asking for financial support to assist a locally based refuge.

These two charities sought our assistance in funding toiletries, shampoo, etc., for the families when they first arrive, often with very little.

During the process of considering these funding applications, the Trustees felt it would be beneficial for one of the Trustees to visit the refuge to gain a deeper understanding of the invaluable work and service they provide to families in distress.

The Provincial Almoner had a meeting with the CEO of the Refuge, Mrs Lesley Gibson, who gave a guided tour of the accommodation. During this visit, Norman observed that they had a beautiful courtyard for families to utilise during good weather. However, there was a lack of seating available for these families.

Mrs Gibson expressed a keen need for new garden furniture, but lamented that budgets had been reduced that year.

Upon hearing this, the Chairman agreed that we could assist in this noble cause. Consequently, the furniture was ordered and delivered within 10 days.

The refuge offers families, especially those with children, a safe haven. It provides the necessary support to help individuals get their lives back on track. Mrs Gibson notes, “Families sometimes arrive at the refuge with only the clothes on their back, scared and unsure if they’ve made the right decision. Here, they can find solace and take the time to rethink and reshape their futures.”

During their stay, the refuge provides practical assistance such as:

  • Securing safe, permanent housing
  • Accessing legal and financial advice
  • Acquiring healthcare
  • Building relationships with children
  • Rebuilding confidence and social networks

Mrs Gibson adds, “We also offer support to all children and young people living in our refuges. This includes helping them express their feelings and providing a space where they can play and be children again. We have staff members dedicated to assisting young individuals who find their circumstances impacting school attendance or behaviour.”

“Many people seek advice and support but don’t necessarily require accommodation. For them, we have a community service, sometimes referred to as outreach,” says Lesley.

Support Workers provide advice, guidance, and practical assistance to both women and men affected by abusive relationships. This support can be offered through 1-to-1 sessions, group sessions, or a mix of both.

Services offered by the refuge include:

  • Safety planning to mitigate harm risks
  • Housing advice, including home security
  • Access to legal advice, both civil and criminal
  • Court attendance support
  • Financial and budgeting advice
  • Confidence rebuilding programmes
  • Community involvement support
  • Support for children, including rebuilding relationships
  • Help with retraining and job hunting
  • Referrals to other specialist services
Seated in the picture are CEO Mrs Lesley Gibson, some residents, Alasdair Watson APGM, Noman West Provincial Almoner.
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