Star Refuge will provide much needed emergency accommodation for those fleeing violence and abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS
The UK’s first ever shelter for LGBTQI homelessness, The Outside Project, was set up by Carla Ecola in 2017, providing a vital service that didn’t previously exist for LGBTQI people, who have unique experiences and risks of homelessness, hate crime, domestic abuse and family rejection.
Carla and the team at The Outside Project, have recently opened Star Refuge – an additional specialist domestic abuse refuge for the LGBTQI community which provides much needed emergency accommodation for those fleeing violence and abuse.
Higher rates of domestic abuse have become a national concern during the COVID-19 so the Outside Project have worked alongside Galop and Stonewall Housing as part of an emergency accommodation appeal. The proposal was quickly accepted by the Mayor’s Office (MOPAC) and the ground-breaking project for the LGBTQI community was created and launched within weeks.
Throughout this pandemic, organisations working with victims/survivors of domestic abuse in London have seen an increase in those seeking help, including those currently in lockdown with abusive partners or family members.
View this post on Instagram
WE ARE OPEN! STAR REFUGE Domestic Abuse Refuge for London's LGBTIQ+ Community @lgbtiqoutside have opened a domestic abuse refuge for London's LGBTIQ+ community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you ever feel like you need to stay somewhere else for your own safety or wellbeing then you are right. Don't wait. To discuss your options and refer into our refuge contact our partner agencies – Are you experiencing domestic abuse? @galopuk National LGBT+ DV Helpline: 0800 999 5428 http://lgbtdap.org.uk/get-help/ Are you homeless as a result of domestic abuse? @stonewallhousing Helpline: 0207 359 5767 https://stonewallhousing.org/services/referral-form/ #identityresponsiveservices STAR Refuge has been named to commemorate the 50th anniversary of STAR House – New York, 1970. Art: @freddelanka Logo: @laik_ecola #starrefuge
However, they haven’t been able to access safe accommodation in London due to reasons such as a lack of specialist refuge spaces (until now), trans+ and non-binary survivors facing issues with single-sex accommodation, or discrimination and hate crimes within hostel accommodation.
Stonewall UK national surveys from 2008 and 2011 show that one in four lesbian and bisexual women have experienced domestic abuse in a relationship. Specialist refuge accommodation for women and children isn’t always necessarily suitable for lesbian, bisexual and trans+ women, who can experience isolation and lack of understanding of their situation.
Carla Ecola, Director of The Outside Project, said: “We are proud to be opening this additional specialist domestic abuse refuge for our community during the COVID19 pandemic. We would like to thank the Mayor’s Office for their support, our colleagues in the homelessness, LGBTIQ+ and VWAG sectors for standing beside us and the LGBTIQ+ community for raising our voices, campaigning alongside us for more specialised services for LGBTIQ+ people.”