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About Us

Welwyn Hatfield Women’s Refuge and Support Services is an independent local agency ( Registered Charity No. 1156186 ) providing services for women and children who have experienced domestic violence or abuse. We are an independent organisation run by women, for women and we are full members of the Women’s Aid Federation of England ( WAFE ).

The organisation was set up in 1990 when concerned members of Welwyn Hatfield Council invited women in the community to a public meeting to address the locally unmet needs of women living with domestic violence. Welwyn Hatfield Council remain supportive of us and our work. We would not be able to operate without their continued commitment.


To provide safe accommodation and help and support in the community to women and children who have been physically, sexually or emotionally abused.


Welwyn Hatfield Women’s Refuge and Support Services (WHWR) seeks to work towards and end to violence against women and children in the home and outside. Towards this ultimate end we seek to meet the following objectives:

  • To provide safe temporary accommodation, advice, support and information to women and children fleeing domestic violence and abuse.
  • To offer specific services for children.
  • To refer to County Outreach support organisations for women who choose not to use the Refuge for temporary accommodation and to ex resident women and children.
  • To offer emotional support to women who have experienced violence and abuse.
  • To plan and facilitate Domestic Violence Awareness and Good Practice training to external agencies.
  • Multi-agency work and networking.
  • Advocacy.

Women from all cultures, races, classes, sexualities, ages and levels of ability experience domestic violence and abuse. Whilst each woman’s experience is unique to her we are aware that many issues may profoundly affect her, for example her access to services, who she can confidently ask for help, what she is likely to lose if she leaves the relationship, whether she feels she will be believed, does she risk losing her children? We are always mindful of each woman as a unique individual and how her difference can affect her life and the choices she makes. We will endeavour to ensure that informed choices may be made. We will promote self determination and offer support to achieve this.

We recognise that not all women are ready to permanently leave abusive relationships. They may use the Refuge for respite rather than making a final break, they may simply want to talk to Refuge staff or join a group. We will support them in any decision they make, providing no child is at risk of abuse.

Children make up two thirds of our client group and we have a priority to provide services to them. It is important that they know they have a right to live free from violence in our Refuge. We encourage and support women to find non abusive ways of disciplining their children. We are also aware that recent research has shown links between domestic violence and child abuse.

We are aware that some women may continue to need our support when they are safely resettled. To this end we make our services available through resettlement safety plans, security advice, home drop ins and telephone support and referrals to other DVA services and support groups in or out of county.

We will work positively with external agencies – both statutory and voluntary – to try to ensure that women and children who have experienced violence and abuse receive sympathetic treatment. We will also assist external agencies with domestic violence training events, awareness raising and good practice issues.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES)

WHWR is preventing and reducing the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) on children, young people and/or adults through our service.

WHAT are ACE’s

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Living with someone who abused drugs
  • Living with someone who abused alcohol
  • Exposure to domestic violence
  • Living with someone who has gone to prison
  • Living with someone with serious mental illness
  • Losing a parent through divorce, death or abandonment

How Common are ACEs?

In a 2014 UK study on ACEs, 47% of people experienced at least one ACE with 9% of the population having 4+ ACES (Bellis et al, 2014).

Impact of ACEs

Just like attachment, experiencing ACEs can have an impact on our future physical and mental health, and often ACEs can be barriers to healthy attachment relationships forming for children. Some of the effects of ACEs on our physical and mental health are:

  • An increase in the risk of certain health problems in adulthood, such as cancer and heart disease, as well as increasing the risk of mental health difficulties, violence and becoming a victim of violence.
  • An increase in the risk of mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. 1 in 3 diagnosed mental health conditions in adulthood directly relate to ACEs.
  • The longer an individual experiences an ACE and the more ACEs someone experiences, the bigger the impact it will have on their development and their health.

During the last financial year we have supported 60 children. All have seen or heard things they shouldn’t have had to. Their nervous systems work differently to children who are from calm and predictable homes. These children need lots of reassurance, kindness and acceptance. They will fly off the handle at small inconveniences and react in unexpected ways. Our children’s team is funded in part by BBC Children in Need. We are specially trained to work with children who have experienced trauma so we’re able to meet them where they’re at, time and time again.

Some of the other things exposure to ACEs can impact, are:

  • The ability to recognise and manage different emotions.
  • The capacity to make and keep healthy friendships and other relationships.
  • The ability to manage behaviour in school settings.
  • Difficulties coping with emotions safely without causing harm to self or others.

Arriving shortly… Our ACE’s Program


Contact us at

By phone on: 01707 373743

By email: admin at(@)