Cambridge Womens Aid

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Sarah and her two young children were living with Sarah’s partner in a home they privately rented in the north of Cambridgeshire.  Sarah had been talking to our Outreach worker for a few weeks about her situation which was becoming harder and harder.  She had suffered abuse from her partner for the last two years which was getting worse.  One night she phoned our emergency number and spoke to our worker on call.  She was sitting in a car park with her two children and was very distressed.  Her partner had been very abusive lately and had come home drunk.  She knew he would become violent if she stayed so she grabbed the children when she got a chance and drove off with them.  Because of the way her partner behaved she had become isolated from her family and friends and had nowhere to turn.  We told her to drive to the refuge and she was met there by two workers.  Sarah was wearing tracksuit bottoms and a t shirt filthy from crying.  Her children were wearing only nappies and a t shirt.  None of them had any shoes and they did not have any money or belongings with them.


The family were given their own room.  Thanks to donated funds we were able to give the family food, toiletries, nappies and baby wipes.  Thanks to donated items, we could supply the children with toys and give them all clothes to wear.


The next day we went out and bought the family shoes and some clothes.  The cost of supplying this family with the essential items they needed in the first 24 hours of their stay was roughly £170.  It was a week before we could gain safe access to her home to collect her belongings and it was three weeks before she received any benefits from the state.  In total CWA donated over £600 towards ensuring this family had what they needed to live..  An additional donation of £200 was given to them family when they left the refuge to ensure that the children had beds to sleep on in their new home.  This family was not entitled to a grant from the state but we were able to provide many of the household items they needed such a fridge, a sofa and bedding thanks to donated items and funds from kind individuals.



Kim and her three children were referred to the refuge by a Health Visitor who had become more and more concerned about the harm Kim’s partner was inflicting on her and their children.  When this family arrived at the refuge, they had no money.  Kim’s partner worked and he was the parent claiming the Child Benefit. Kim tried to claim Income Support for herself and the children.  However, as you can only claim Income Support if you are in receipt of Child Benefit, she was turned down.  She then claimed Job Seekers Allowance even though she was not in a position to look for work due to the age of her young children.  In the meantime she asked for the Child Benefit to be paid to her as she is caring for the children. To take the Child Benefit off one parent and pay it to another can take up to 6 months.  While the family waited for this to happen, the only income this mother and her three children had to live on was £65 Job Seekers Allowance per week. 


If this family had been receiving the benefits they were entitled to, they would have received at least another £120 per week.  CWA used donations to ensure that this family had their basic needs met until they started to receive Child Benefit and Income Support.  Donations were also used to pay their utility bills so they would not get into more debt while living in refuge.  Supporting this family cost CWA roughly around £400 per month.  Out of the eleven families living in the refuge, CWA will find that at least one of the families will be in this type of situation at any one time requiring assistance. 


Details have been changed to ensure anonymity

“It changed my life for the better and got me all the support I need.”