Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland

24 Hour Domestic Violence Helpline
0800 917 1414

homeabout us | services | help4you | domestic violence | help4us | volunteering | publications | useful links | jobs |



Other related pages


» history of Women’s Aid
» facts & figures

» the myths

» dispelling the myths

» the law

» children

» police statistics

» women's aid statistics

» progress

The 1980’s… A decade of regional development 

By 1980 the demands on the three refuges in Northern Ireland were immense and it was obvious that facilities were hopelessly inadequate to meet the need.  The 1975 government report by the Select Committee on "Violence in Marriage" had recommended that there should be one family space per 10,000 population.  Applying this to Northern Ireland meant a minimum target of 150 family spaces or 450 bed spaces.  As Northern Ireland had only 25 family places, the overriding priority for the 1980's was to extend the provision throughout the country.  Help from established refuges was crucial during this period of regional development.  They provided expertise, support and advice for new groups setting up in Omagh and North Down in (1982), Newry (1983), Ballymena and Enniskillen (1984), Antrim (1986), Craigavon (1988) and Lisburn (1998). 

By adopting the principles of self-help within a supportive structure and women only environment, Women's Aid has provided one of the most innovative and effective models of working to be seen in either the voluntary or statutory sectors in recent years. 

The pioneering work which characterised the 1970's was not forgotten during the 1980's.  A conference on sexual abuse was held in 1985 and led to a refuge specifically for victims of incest and sexual abuse being opened by Belfast Women's Aid in 1986, one of the few in the United Kingdom. 

Concern grew over the response of other agencies to domestic violence, particularly the police response in 1987.   

The role of Women's Aid in providing training and awareness to outside agencies was also developed during this period and included training with police officers, social workers, health visitors and other professionals. 

The funding of refuges which was a source of constant difficulty placed Women's Aid groups in great economic insecurity.  However, with the growing recognition of the expertise that Women's Aid had to offer statutory agencies, securing funding, albeit at a minimum level has become somewhat easier.  In 1989, with the introduction of the Homeless Persons Act, Women's Aid in Northern Ireland was fortunate to retain funding for the care elements of the work whilst the NI Housing Executive took responsibility for the accommodation costs.  This dual funding mechanism reflects the diverse elements in the service Women's Aid provides.  It is primarily the result of the open and honest working relationship that had been established and maintained over the years between Women's Aid and a wide range of voluntary and statutory agencies. 

By the end of the 1980's Women's Aid was and still is the largest provider of temporary accommodation in the voluntary sector with over 100 family spaces including  provision for women and children who have been victims of incest and sexual abuse. next page

back to top


contact us

Contact Us:  129 University Street Belfast. BT7 1HP  Tel:(028) 90 249041 Fax:(028) 90 239296  
General email: [email protected]
  For help and information, please call the 24 Hour Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 917 1414. We do not provide a  support service via email.


Please help keep our website useful by providing suggestions and comments by filling in our feedback form


Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland