The refuge movement began in the 1970’s, but in the late 80’s there was still little help available in the area of Burntwood. Kathy Coe was looking for a way to escape her abusive partner and was constantly faced with the lack of interest and brick walls.
Kathy began to talk to people about the vision she had about a woman’s refuge. There was some interest but a lot of apathy, and even worse rejection for the idea. In 1988 she finally left her husband and went to stay with friends. When she asked for help from the local authority she was told to go back home and get an injunction when he hit her again. This was the final straw for Kathy. When she finally recovered from the shock of leaving her partner she began working again on setting up the project.
Eventually in 1991, the committee that was formed, became constituted as a Limited Company by Guarantee, and a Registered Charity. This was a real step forward. The main problem now was finding the funding for it. In December ’93 the 24 help-line was set up, so that some sort of service could be
offered, and so that we could gather evidence of the need of the project. This operated from Kathy’s bedroom.
In August ’94 the first refuge finally opened. This was housed in a gatehouse at a local hospital. It was quickly full, and remained that way constantly. We have since had several moves, and are now happily settled in a very nice house.
In 2003 we extended our services into Tamworth. We have a three family refuge which has shared facilities. We are aiming to increase this provision by working with Tamworth Borough Council to find a larger building. Unfortunately we still require more accommodation and are planning to open a 14 family refuge in Lichfield in November 04. We are still expanding and setting up new services. There is still a great deal that we need to address. Pathway will continue to grow until we feel that we are totally filling the need.
‘We weren’t a part of Grace’s story but if you are suffering domestic or sexual abuse, we could be part of yours and help you to find your own happy ending. Working with a wider partnership we can help you with a range of issues, and refer you to more specialist help where it is most appropriate.’