Zola is a specialist BAME refuge. This means there are specialist staff members who can support women’s language and cultural needs.
The team consists of four refuge support workers, one team leader, and a children’s worker. Between them, they can speak Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, and English.
Zola has nine self-contained flats, which can house nine women and up to 15 children at one time.
At Zola, the team supports women with issues such as safety, housing, benefits, immigration, finances, children, and health. Women are also supported when they are ready to apply for housing and support on leaving the refuge to move into their own tenancy.
Arriving in 2020 will be three Move On properties!
We have been successful with our bid to Homes England to be able to provide three houses that women accommodated in Zola can move into after their needs have been assessed.
What other support is available at Zola?
At the Zola refuge, we support women with no recourse to public funds.
To be eligible for stay at Zola, women without Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) will need the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC) applied for on their behalf before being accepted. We can help with the application. This entitles women to public funds for a limited period (initially three months) but usually until her leave application decision.
Once the woman has the DDVC in place, she can claim benefits including housing benefit and legal aid. The staff at Zola will make an appointment with a solicitor and accompany her to begin the leave to remain process. We help her with her ILR application which must be submitted within three months of being given the DDVC. In the refuge, we give women emotional support around the abuse she has experienced and help to prepare her personal statement that accompanies her leave to remain application.
Once submitted, we usually hear the decision after approximately three months, but it can take much longer.
Until the decision is received the woman claims benefits and is supported at the refuge. She is unable to apply for housing until her leave to remain is successful.