No recourse to public funds (NRPF) is just one of many reasons why a woman experiencing domestic abuse may struggle to access the support that they need. Christian organisations, such as Beauty for Ashes in Manchester, are reaching into this space and bridging gaps in support. But local churches also have a role to play in supporting all women who have experienced abuse by becoming a Restored Beacon church.

For those suffering abuse at the hands of their partner or ex-partner, accessing support is very rarely easy. For many, the struggle in getting support is not because there is none available to them, but because abusive relationships are complex and often hard to leave. Women suffering abuse for varying reasons can find it very difficult to speak out.

But for some, the struggle lies in the fact that there is very little support available to them through the usual routes. In particular, women with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) who experience domestic abuse can often find themselves in a scenario where they have nowhere to escape to. People with NRPF are in the UK on a visa that does not allow them access to most welfare benefits; this includes most migrants who are visiting, studying, working or joining family in the UK. They have NRPF until they have obtained indefinite leave to remain.

Without access to welfare benefits, such as housing benefits, there is very little provision in place for women with NRPF. Support in finding housing, as well as other services to meet the needs of an abuse survivor, are not readily available through local authorities without access to public funds. If there are no charities filling the gaps, women are often left without the support they need to escape the abuse they are facing.

However, there are some Christian organisations stepping up to meet the needs of women with NRPF. One such organisation is Manchester-based charity Beauty for Ashes. Among other services targeted at helping women with NRPF access the support they need, Beauty for Ashes provides accommodation for these women, giving them a safe place to live free from abuse.

As churches and individuals, we can consider supporting organisations like Beauty for Ashes who are meeting the needs of women facing abuse through financial support, volunteering and providing essentials, such as bedding, toiletries and clothing. We can also advocate for greater provisions to be made available for women with NRPF by the government and local authorities. One way to do this is by contacting your local MP and ask them to speak up for women with NRPF within parliament. 

Another way that our churches can meet the needs of all women experiencing abuse (not just those with NRPF) is through becoming a Restored Beacon church.

Restored Beacon

For the year ending March 2020, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimated that 1.6 million women aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year. Domestic abuse is not an issue that affects the minority. Many women in our communities, neighbourhoods and churches have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse.

We have to make our churches places of safety for women who have experienced abuse if we are to make our churches places that reflect the caring love that Jesus had for women. Jesus’ interactions with the woman at the well, the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, and the woman who bled for 12 years, are just a few of the countless examples in the Bible.

Recently, our friends at Restored (an organisation working alongside churches to end violence against women) have introduced a new scheme called Restored Beacons, aiming to make churches across the UK safe spaces for survivors of domestic abuse. Restored Beacon churches are churches whose light guides survivors home to safety. A beacon that calls the people of God to stand together to fix that which is broken in their communities and live out a different way”.

When you sign up to become a Restored Beacon church, individuals or groups within your church will be able to receive training on how to best support people who have experienced domestic abuse, and you will be joining a network of churches across the UK pledging to be change-makers, meeting the needs of survivors in your local community.

To find out more about what it means to become a Restored Beacon church, sign up to the free webinar by Restored on Thursday, 31 March 2022.

Violence against women and girls (VAWG): explore the series

This article is part of a six-part series on challenging violence against women and girls. Click through to other articles in the series below:

Violence and abuse against women and girls (VAWG)

Violence and abuse against women and girls (VAWG)

Six-part series: As UK leaders consider how to protect women and girls, how can evangelicals advocate for change? Read series
VAWG series: We need more than policy to resolve this problem

VAWG series: We need more than policy to resolve this problem

Part one: An overview of the UK government’s current strategy to tackle violence and abuse against women and girls