Bridging the Gap

In March 2018, Making Herstory received its first research and development grant from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, to explore new ways of bridging the gap between the number of women fleeing abuse each month, and the number of refuge spaces available to them.


Funding cuts made directly to Local Authorities, council-led DV budgets and to over 75% of women’s shelters has resulted in an increasing gap between the number of women seeking emergency aid as they flee perpetrators of abuse, and the number of spaces / beds / personnel / services available to assist them.

Alexandra Barker, our beloved Bridging the Gap research consultant

This has resulted in an estimated +1,000 women (and their children) being turned away every single week from existing women’s shelters which are unable to cope with demand. Furthermore, knowledge of the dire state of women’s services across the United Kingdom by the general public and therefore abuse survivors, further prevents women from leaving their perpetrators in the first place.

Failing government policies or commitments to ring-fence funds to safeguard survivor-focussed services has led to thousands of women escapees of trafficking, violence and rape being “lost” to a system unable to cope.

All this means that the first basic need of a safe space wherein survivors can be helped to heal, and their case taken up by legal and therapeutic professionals, is at the worst non-existent, at best, now a scarcity.


Thanks to our research consultant Alexandra Barker’s excellent works, and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s kind support, we have to date:

  • completed a pan-London borough-by-borough review of the disparity between the number of women fleeing violence each month and the number of bedspaces available.
  • identified London boroughs currently in most urgent need of space mobilising;
  • launched discussions with potential partnering shelters, local councils and private enterprises with a view to developing a test pilot programme of safe-shelter mobilisation.


In 2019, we will be aiming to:

  • host independent consultation meetings with key stakeholders to further understand potential legal / safety / financial barriers to mobilising spare rooms and private corporate holdings for emergency shelters, and
  • drafting our first pilot project.

A report on our findings will be available in April 2019.

If you would like to assist us with the development of this project,  please contact us today.