The school bell rings, and for many children, the only fleeing they will be doing is through the gates, full of adrenaline to tell all about the hours spent doing exactly what a child should be.
It’s a typical after-school scene that follows.
Cramming in the last hour of homework before indulging in the nights TV and pizza for dinner.
Only difference being that this pizza is being served at Amber House; a women’s refuge in Nottingham.
The reality for these families has mostly been defined by violence and a routine of intimidation, often at the hands of their partners or extended relatives.
Figures released today for Scotland alone revealed over 59,000 incidents of domestic abuse just last year, further supporting the rise in homelessness among women as a result.
Mental and physical abuse from someone who once felt like home.
Supporting up to ten families at a time, the Nottingham City Council-commissioned service supports those whose homes have been broken, and whose children have often been the collateral damage.
Providing support and informed decisions about future accommodation, Amber House is the only refuge in the area that employs a full-time children’s worker, Anna, allowing all ages to regain a sense of innocent normality.
The service at Amber House is provided by Metropolitan Thames Valley, one of the 250 housing organisations which recently signed up to the Chartered Institute of Housing’s ‘Make a Stand’ campaign to tackle domestic abuse.
For many of the anonymous women at Amber House, the process of re-homing is a long and laborious one, but support workers are on hand to help with paperwork, whilst still allowing the freedom that these women need.
“When I first came to Amber House, I was angry, frustrated, lost. I had no job or life anymore, but slowly I started to realise that I am lucky to have a place like this.”
The broken home that these families once knew as forever slowly diminishes, as the sanctuary of Amber House provides immediate care as soon as they walk through the door.
Round the clock staffing from the four senior support workers helps families regain every sense of a normality within their community.
Senior staff member Sarah adds: “We can make a huge impact on their lives because of our approach, our commitment and our consistency.
“We’ve opened the door to doing things differently.”