PICTURES: Pioneering women's refuge celebrates opening

After months of preparations, a pioneering women's refuge is ready to help victims of domestic violence.

Friday, 22nd September 2017, 12:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:26 pm
Amber House women's refuge house open day in Littlehampton. Pic Steve Robards

Amber House in New Road, Littlehampton, was full of life yesterday to celebrate the completion of the first public women’s refuge in the county.

Based on a Dutch model, the house is run by the charity Safe in Sussex.

Charity trustee Margaret Bamford thought the house was ‘absolutely fabulous’. She said: “It is an idea that’s taken two years to germinate and now it is actually here it couldn’t be better.

Amber House, the women's refuge set to open in New Road, Littlehampton. Picture: Stephen Goodger SUS-170613-095947001

“It is a completely different concept for domestic violence which is new and this group is piloting, and they are absolutely magnificent women.”

The house has five bedrooms, two bathrooms, three separate toilets, and a kitchen. The staff room has a bed, as the house is manned 24 hours a day, and the lounge can be turned into a bedroom if police or social services need somewhere to put a woman who is in danger overnight.

It also has a separate drop-in centre, found at the back of the house in Clifton Road, which men and women can come to for advice from one of the charity’s social workers.

The staff will also work with abusive partners to change their behaviour.

Amber House women's refuge house open day in Littlehampton, the Walk in Centre. Pic Steve Robards SR1723685 SUS-170921-163925001

Claire Griffin and Gilly Woodley are two of Amber House’s family support workers. What attracted them to Amber House is that it focuses on prevention rather than cure. Gilly said: “This is about early intervention before the relationship goes really wrong, which makes so much more sense to me.”

While the refuge will help women in medium to low risk relationships, security is a priority. The house is fitted with CCTV cameras and panic buttons to the police.

The drop-in centre will open on Monday, and the refuge will start taking women in two weeks.

CEO of Safe in Sussex Sharon Howard thanked volunteers for their help and donations to get Amber House ready. She said: “The support we had is amazing.”

Amber House women's refuge house open day in Littlehampton. People have donated blankets and cushions to the refuge. Pic Steve Robards
Amber House women's refuge house open day in Littlehampton, the drop-in centre. Pic Steve Robards