NEWS RELEASE: Opening of the UK's first 'by-and-for' LGBTIQ+ Domestic Abuse Refuge
At a time when LGBTIQ+ identities are under attack, we are proud to announce a new partnership between The Outside Project and Star Support, commissioned by the Mayor’s Office and funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The new partnership will provide the UK's first dedicated refuge for LGBTIQ+ survivors of domestic abuse. As well as the refuge service, the funding allows us to provide community-based support at The Outside Project LGBTIQ+ community centre. The refuge service is being led by a new organisation called Star Support.
The need for LGBTIQ+ survivors has traditionally not been well-resourced, particularly when it comes to accommodation-related support. Up to this point, there have been no permanent by-and-for refuges for LGBTIQ+ survivors. This is despite the fact that the experiences of LGBTIQ+ survivors have been relatively well documented.
For example, research has found:
More than half of all LGBTIQ+ respondents reported having experienced over 20 incidents of domestic abuse
The most common perpetrators of abuse against LGBTIQ+ survivors were parents – mothers (45%) and fathers (41%).
80% of trans people had experienced domestic abuse from a partner or ex-partner 
One in four lesbian and bi women have experienced domestic abuse in a relationship.
In a recent study, Galop found that LGBTIQ+ survivors often do not seek support from services or receive informal support from family and friends, following domestic abuse. The Drive Partnership, found the majority of LGBTIQ+ survivors reported that they ‘were more likely to feel comfortable accessing an LGBTIQ+ specialist domestic abuse service, and more likely to feel uncomfortable accessing a mainstream victim support service’ (Galop 2022). Despite the best intentions, mainstream services lack the knowledge, skills and experiences to cater for the needs of minoritised communities.
In addition to the above, it has been well established that LGBTIQ+ people face high rates of homelessness. Stonewall has found that ‘almost one in five LGBTIQ+ people (18%) have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, compared with one in ten (7.7%) within the general population. With higher rates of homelessness and significant rates of domestic abuse, it is clear that accommodation for LGBTIQ+ survivors of domestic abuse is needed now, more than ever.
We believe it is essential that domestic abuse services are designed by the communities they intend to serve. This ensures specialist understanding and awareness of the nuances and needs of the community, resulting in safe and effective interventions where people are accepted, without exception.
Dwaine (pseudonym), our first resident, says:
‘LGBTIQ+ people need somewhere they can come and be safe in order to rebuild their lives. Living in this project enables me to open up, deal with trauma and past experience while moving forward and creating a safer future for myself.’
Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for London, said:
‘Domestic abuse is a devastating crime that can affect anyone. Having a safe place of refuge to escape from abuse, together with specialist support services, can make a huge difference for the safety and wellbeing of victims and survivors. I’m delighted that we have been able to help Outside Project and Star Support to deliver a dedicated refuge and community support for LGBTQI+ Londoners, as we build a safer London for all.’
Carla Ecola, Managing Director of The Outside Project, says:
‘As a survivor, developing STAR Refuge from a COVID emergency response into a permanent, independent organisation is the achievement of my lifetime - this wouldn’t have been possible without Maari Nastari leading the project to create Star Support, and every person who joined the MAKE SPACE FOR HOMELESS QUEERS campaign from April 2020 onwards. Thank you all so much.’
Maari Nastari, CEO of Star Support, says:
‘Star Support is proud to continue the legacy of supporting survivors of domestic abuse, continuing the work started by The Outside Project. For too long, LGBTIQ+ survivors have been underserved by mainstream services. I am proud to lead this new organisation, which will centre the voices of LGBTIQ+ survivors. We are grateful for the support from MOPAC and funding from DLUHC to assist us in creating this new service run by the LGBTIQ+ community, for the LGBTIQ+ community.’
We are currently raising money for our residents move-in costs as well as making our therapeutic space warm and welcoming. Please find our fundraising page here: https://www.peoplesfundraising.com/donation/star-support
Full Press Release via PDF: