Coronavirus: information and updates

Shop at our eBay store during lockdown

Finding emergency housing if you feel unsafe

Warning If you're in immediate danger

Leave your home and call the police on 999 as soon as possible if you or your children are in danger of immediate harm.

If you cannot reply to questions on the phone, cough or tap the handset. The operator may ask you to press 55 if you cannot speak.

If you cannot call, text 'REGISTER' to 999 and follow the instructions.

Support is available

Support is available during coronavirus. You can still leave your home if you’re at risk or unsafe. Do not wait for something to happen. This could be physical or emotional abuse, threatening or controlling behaviour.

How to recognise abuse (Refuge)

When reading this web page, make sure you:

  • are in a safe place
  • use incognito mode on your browser
  • remember to delete this page from your browsing history

Get advice

Contact a domestic abuse organisation to get advice about your situation. Try calling when you are alone. They will talk you through your options for leaving your home or see if you can stay in your home safely. You can contact:

Phone numbers starting in 0808 and 0800 are free. Some lines may have fewer staff to answer calls at the moment. Leave a voicemail or try calling again if you do not get through.

Warning Do not return home if you leave

It may be unsafe for you to return home if you decide to leave. If you have any doubts, contact a domestic abuse helpline to talk through your concerns.

Accessing short-term emergency housing

There are 2 ways of accessing short-term emergency housing:

  • through a referral to a refuge
  • with help from your local authority

The accommodation available may not be in your area, and you may have to move away.

If you are renting and worried about your contract, it's best to leave your home first. Support officers can help you sort out your tenancy later.

Referral to a refuge

A refuge is safe accommodation for people experiencing or at risk of domestic abuse. If you're in this situation, call a domestic abuse organisation or helpline. An adviser will help you find a refuge to contact and may contact them for you.

The refuge will help you make a plan to leave your home safely. They may also be able to help you move. You can stay in a refuge while you look for longer-term housing.

Support from a local authority

If you feel physically or emotionally unsafe at home, you are legally classed as ‘homeless’. This means local authorities must help you find safe accommodation or help you be safe in your home. This can be your local authority or one in another area.

You must meet certain residence conditions for them to support you. There are different conditions for:

  • British and Irish citizens
  • EU citizens
  • people from outside the EU

Immigration and residence restrictions (Shelter)

Emergency housing

You will get emergency housing if you meet residence conditions and you are:

  • pregnant or have children living with you
  • considered vulnerable, for example due to domestic abuse, physical or mental health conditions

Find your local authority (GOV.UK)

Accommodation options are limited, but councils must try to take your needs into account. This includes access needs and any health or care services you use regularly. You may be moved to another area to avoid seeing the person who abused you, and may initially stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast. But the local authority has a duty to help you with long-term housing.

The council may not help further if you reject the accommodation they offer. If it's unsuitable for you, it's best to accept the offer and then get legal advice.

Check if you're eligible for Civil Legal Aid (GOV.UK)

Help if you're homeless: domestic abuse (Shelter England)

If you stay in your home

If you decide to stay in your home, you can still access support. It may be possible to get an injunction, which is a court order to protect you and your children from the person who abused you. It decides who can stay in the home and who needs to leave.

Get an injunction if you’ve been the victim of domestic violence (GOV.UK)

If you remain in your home, think about how you can stay safe. You should try to:

  • stay in touch with your family and friends as much as possible
  • set up a code word or signal you can text someone close to you if you feel threatened
  • save emergency and helpline numbers in your phone
  • have a small amount of cash on you
  • keep a bag of essential items in a safe place or with a neighbour, including forms of ID, bank statements and any letters about debt
  • make a safety plan in case you need to leave quickly

Making a safety plan (Women's Aid)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 27/07/2020

Was this page helpful?

We're sorry to hear that.

Tell us how we can improve it
Opens in a new windowOpens an external siteOpens an external site in a new window