NOTTINGHAM’S largest domestic abuse organisation, Juno Women’s Aid, has received ‘life-changing’ funding of more than £3m to buy a string of safe properties for the survivors it helps.
The charity says it was overwhelmed to secure the funding, which will be used to buy 18 two and three-bedroom homes across Nottingham city and south Nottinghamshire for women and their children impacted by domestic abuse.
The social investment loan of £3,075,000 comes from Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC), which provides finance for ‘extraordinary’ charities and social enterprises.
Yasmin Rehman, CEO at Juno Women’s Aid, which has been running for 40 years, said: “It’s the most incredible news – it is life-changing. I’m still pinching myself and our brilliant team is over the moon.
“This means a sea change in what we can offer. We’ve been wanting to move away from an emergency, sticking plaster approach to a longer-term strategy – not just saving lives but creating long-lasting change.
“Housing is at the core of this. The ability to move survivors and their families out of a refuge and into a property we own – where they can put down roots, have safe social networks, put their children into school and be supported in finding jobs or training courses is a game changer. And it’s just the start.”
The loan, distributed by SASC’s Social and Sustainable Housing Fund II (SASH II) will provide tenancies for typically up to two years and access to bespoke specialist support to help families overcome the abuse and trauma they have experienced.
While giving Juno greater control over the quality and location of its properties, it is estimated that around 110 women and 220 children will be supported during the loan term. It will also benefit families with older male children who are often unable to access other refuge accommodation.
Paula Clarke, Juno’s deputy CEO, said: “It’s important for children and young people that we see the experience through their eyes – the impact of fleeing, settling somewhere else and going to different schools all impacts on them, their friendships and relationships. We need to support them in a sensitive and compassionate way.”
In 2022-2023, Juno worked with 2,726 women, 472 children and young people, fostered 56 pets, and received nearly 16,000 calls on its helpline. At any one time, it supports 500-600 women and children in Nottingham and south Nottinghamshire.
Its wide range of services includes a drop-in service; refuge provision, specialist one-to-one and community outreach support for women, children and young people; justice team support through civil and criminal court proceedings and a range of group work programmes.
The charity has established a partnership with Nottingham College allowing women in its refuges to access training and education, with their children able to use the on-site nursery.
Juno praised the support of local authorities in the city and county in its work, as well as the award-winning Hull Women’s Network charity.
Lisa Hilder, its director and treasurer, co-developed the SASH I and II fund and worked closely with Juno and SASC during the project planning phase and will give continued support.
This investment is SASC’s first ‘Midwife’ deal – an arrangement between Juno and existing partners Hull Women’s Network, based at Preston Road Women’s Centre, to help build capacity in UK women’s organisations.
Lisa said: “We are delighted to be working with Juno on this exciting venture – an extension of our successful developmental ‘midwife’ approach to delivering safe accommodation for women fleeing violence and abuse alongside sister organisations all over the UK.”
Mark Bickford, CEO of SASC, said: “There are many women’s aid organisations in the UK like Juno that would like to do more but feel restrained by their current capacity and experience.
“This social investment loan will enable Juno to transform its services. They will own their own properties rather than rely on rented accommodation, making the model more sustainable and significantly increase their accommodation and capacity to support many more women and children across Nottinghamshire escaping domestic abuse.
“We are also thrilled that our previous investee, Hull Women’s Network (Winner), will be using its experiences to help Juno build capacity and grow its housing stock. By working together we’re all contributing to improving the lives of vulnerable women and children and helping them move on.”
Councillor Sajid Mohammed, portfolio holder for neighbourhoods, safety and inclusion at Nottingham City Council, said: “People perhaps wouldn’t know that domestic abuse is the third most common cause of homelessness in Nottingham and we take our commitment to tackling this terrible crime with the utmost seriousness. We understand the devastating effects it has on victims, their children and wider families.
“Juno has built incredible partnerships in our city and together they’re transforming the way we deliver services for survivors of domestic abuse – a huge part of this is providing refuge and a place to get back on their feet.
“The council continues to provide funding for safe places but we know that, sadly, current need far outstrips capacity. We’re therefore delighted that Juno has secured this significant funding and will work side-by-side with them to support both child and adult survivors into the future.”
Councillor Scott Carlton, Nottinghamshire County Council’s cabinet member for communities and public health, said: “We are delighted that this funding has been secured to help more women and children receive the support they need in good quality housing. This new approach will make a huge difference in helping them rebuild their lives in safe and secure long-term tenancies.”
Caroline Henry, Nottinghamshire’s police and crime commissioner, said: “Too many people are affected by domestic abuse and violence. Juno Women’s Aid is there to help and offer a range of services to help women and their families live free from fear, and it is great that this funding means they can help more people with housing options.”