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SafeNet - A Calico Group Service

SafeNet has been keeping women and children safe from domestic abuse for forty years.

Phone: 0300 3033 581

Email: contact@safenet.org.uk

Over the years, we have extended our services to all survivors and have developed specialist support for ethnic minority communities, children and young people, those with complex health needs, LGBTQI+ and male survivors.

At SafeNet, we are proud to deliver fully inclusive and accessible services.

SafeNet protects victims and survivors of domestic abuse through the provision of safe refuge and support services and promotes the prevention of further harm, through various initiatives including, working to build safe and healthy relations and promote equality.

SafeNet deliver services throughout the North West from bases in Burnley, Preston, Lancaster, Rochdale and Blackpool.

Get help

You deserve to be safe, happy and healthy in your relationships with your family, friends and community.

  • If you are in a relationship where you feel unsafe, unhappy and unhealthy, or have ended such a relationship and are still experiencing abuse, we can help.
  • If anyone in your family or others that you know are abusing, controlling, harassing or violating you, we can help.

We know that sometimes relationships aren’t happy, healthy or safe, and that it often feels like there is no way out, but the first step is only a phone call, an email or a text message away.

If you need to quickly close our website down,  click on the safety button on the side of your screen. If your partner of family check your phone or social media, delete messages and internet history after contacting us; save our number as a made-up name; use a public telephone.

You don’t have to deal with this alone. SafeNet can help you decide what to do. We offer a safe place to stay if needed, along with support, guidance and practical help to create a safer, happier and healthier future.

We offer inclusive, non-judgemental and respectful services to women, children and men, whoever and wherever you are, and whatever your circumstances.

We recognise that there are additional challenges and ways that domestic abuse impacts on your life if you:

  • Are of Black, Asian or Ethnic Minority (BAME) heritage;
  • Are living with dis/ability, physical or learning, and/or;
  • Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex + (LGBTQI+).

We have especially adapted accommodation for people with physical disabilities, and we work in close partnership with other agencies so that anyone escaping abuse who has learning disabilities can access our safe refuge accommodation.

We understand that living with domestic abuse has a serious and life-changing impact on all aspects of our lives, particularly health and wellbeing, and all our support staff can support you and act as your advocate if necessary to help you to access the right services to regain control of your health and wellbeing.

We will support you if you experience mental ill-health, and/or use drugs or alcohol in a harmful way.

For more information, simply contact us on 0300 3033 581 or email us.

Recognising abuse

Although every situation is unique, there are common factors that link the experience of an abusive relationship. Acknowledging these factors is an important step in preventing and stopping the abuse. This list can help you to recognise if you, or someone you know, is in an abusive relationship.

They include:

  • Destructive criticism and verbal abuse – shouting; mocking; accusing; name calling; verbally threatening.
  • Pressure tactics – sulking; threatening to withhold money; disconnecting the phone and internet; taking away or destroying your mobile, tablet or laptop; taking the car away; taking the children away; threatening to report you to the police, social services or the mental health team unless you comply with his demands; threatening or attempting self-harm and suicide; withholding or pressuring you to use drugs or other substances; lying to your friends and family about you; telling you that you have no choice in any decisions.
  • Disrespect – persistently putting you down in front of other people; not listening or responding when you talk; interrupting your telephone calls; taking money from your purse without asking; refusing to help with childcare or housework.
  • Breaking trust – lying to you; withholding information from you; being jealous; having other relationships; breaking promises and shared agreements.
  • Isolation – monitoring or blocking your phone calls, emails and social media accounts; telling you where you can and cannot go; preventing you from seeing friends and relatives; shutting you in the house.
  • Harassment – following you; checking up on you; not allowing you any privacy (for example, opening your mail; going through your laptop, tablet or mobile); repeatedly checking to see who has phoned you; embarrassing you in public; accompanying you everywhere you go.
  • Threats – making angry gestures; using physical size to intimidate; shouting you down; destroying your possessions; breaking things; punching walls; wielding a knife or gun; threatening to kill or harm you and your children; threatening to kill or harm family pets; threats of suicide.
  • Sexual violence – using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts; having sex with you when you don’t want it; forcing you to look at pornographic material; constant pressure and harassment into having sex when you don’t want to; forcing you to have sex with other people; any degrading treatment related to your sexuality, or to whether you are lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual.
  • Physical violence – punching; slapping; hitting; biting; kicking; pulling hair out; pushing; shoving; burning; strangling; pinning you down; holding you by the neck; restraining you.
  • Denial – saying the abuse doesn’t happen; saying you caused the abuse; saying you wind him up; saying he can’t control his anger; being publicly gently and patient; crying and begging for forgiveness; saying it will never happen again.

For more information, simply contact us on 0300 3033 581 or email us.

Our work

SafeNet supports everyone at risk of domestic abuse and violence

Domestic abuse is defined by the Government as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass but is not limited to: psychological; physical; sexual; financial; emotional (2012).

Survivors rarely suffer just one type of abuse but a combination which systematically strips victims/survivors of their independence, confidence and self direction.

We provide safe accommodation and support services in the community for anybody living in fear from abuse. Women with unborn babies through to women in their 80s, men fleeing forced marriage, and young women escaping Female Genital Mutilation, have all sought refuge and support with SafeNet. We have supported trans women to safely access specialist agencies and services needed while addressing the impact of living with domestic abuse.

Resident involvement and contributions to SafeNet services

Women and children staying with us in refuge contributed to and shaped our services over the years, and continue to do so through SafeNet’s ‘Finding Our Voice’ (FOV) residents’ groups. We facilitate FOV at each refuge, encouraging involvement with our services through residents’ suggestions, feedback, complaints and compliments. FOV helps us to improve and develop our services for all, and continuously evolve with the needs of those who need SafeNet services, placing their views central to development and delivery,

SafeNet Refuge Accommodation & Support Services

Vital, safe, temporary emergency accommodation

Refuge services for women and children

“One of the best decisions I made was coming here. After months of abuse, I finally felt safe to plan a positive future. It’s made me stronger. Refuge life is about empowering women.”

Refuges offer an escape from violence and abuse, a safe place for women and children to take time out and have some space practically and emotionally, while being supported to take back control of their lives and get life back onto an even footing.

SafeNet refuges are open to women and children 365 days a year. We are staffed 24/7 to ensure we can respond effectively to emergency referrals to help those in crisis or in immediate need, and also to maintain security and safety for all our residents throughout the day and night.

Our refuge services are always in high demand, and women are mostly referred by partner agencies, including Housing, Child and Adult Social Care Services, Police, Health, other Domestic Abuse helplines, and voluntary and community organisations.

We offer a supportive communal refuge environment, where women and children live together and use shared communal spaces, kitchens, lounges, etc., building mutually supportive relationships with others who have been through similar experiences.

Most families stay in safe refuge between 3-6 months, depending on their circumstances. During this time, refuge support workers work together with residents to explore the options available to them, and to help them reach their goals. Each woman and child living with us in refuge is treated individually, helped to gain confidence, and encouraged and empowered to make their own choices to lead a life free from domestic abuse.

Jane's Place Recovery Refuge

SafeNet recognise that there are situations where survivors need extra help and much higher levels of support, often over a longer period beyond. Usually this is due to additional, more complex needs, including addiction to alcohol and/or drugs, enduring physical and/or high mental ill-health, self harming behaviours, or offending or ex-offending behaviours. Additional issues may arise from being street homeless, groomed, sex-working, trafficked and other forms of exploitation and human rights abuses.

At Jane’s Place Recovery Refuge, we deliver specialist support services, and women and children can stay in our recovery refuge for considerably longer, up to and beyond 12 months when needed. Our accommodation comprises of 15 self contained flats. This is the best and safest arrangement for our residents, and it allows us to best manage any risks posed due to the heightened complex needs and often more chaotic life circumstances.

Residents are supported to recover from both domestic abuse and additional issues, such as use of drugs and alcohol. We offer both domestic abuse focused recovery group work and bespoke group work programmes to motivate residents towards recovery.

SafeNet safe-houses

In addition to refuges, SafeNet also offer numerous safe-houses which are currently based in Burnley and Lancaster. These standard residential terraced properties are a stepping stone to independent living and are situated in confidential locations.

Refuge residents can choose to stay in a safe-house if they are ready for greater independence but are still int he process of gaining confidence to live independently. They benefit from continued support through the refuge service. We deliver daily contact/support (Monday – Friday) via a dedicated Resettlement Worker, and twice daily check-ins by phone (weekends). This way, they can continue to access support at a lower level for a longer period from our specialist support service to support increasing confidence, resilience and independence.

Should the need arise, we can also utilise a safe-house to house diverse family groups escaping abuse, i.e. a married couple; a brother and sister in their early 20s; someone identifying as transgender who does not want to stay in communal refuge; or those who do not ‘fit’ into existing services, i.e. larger families with older boys in their teens/early 20s.

Men's safe-house

SafeNet deliver a dedicated safe-house for men who are escaping domestic and interpersonal abuse. We offer emotional and practical support whilst recognising and addressing the gendered differences in the nature of abuse experienced.

SafeNet utilises the expertise and experience gained and developed through supporting women and children for over 40 years to remove barriers to support for all victims/survivors of domestic abuse. We recognise that we have the skills and ability to provide safe, secure specialist services meeting diverse needs, and that offering a variety of accommodation services is fundamental to achieving this.

About refuge security

“The CCTV and having staff onsite at all times made me feel safe and calmed my anxiety.”

The safety of residents is fundamental to all SafeNet services, and all refuge faciltiies are designed and organised with a focus on safety and security. The location of SafeNet refuges and safe-houses are confidential.

All of our refuges offer exceptional security and are safer by design, with security measures which include 24 hour (waking nights) staff on-site, CCTV (24 hour digitally recorded), night time security, alarm system, security fencing and unique staff-operated entrances with security doors, so that access is fully controlled.

We are directly connected to the police for immediate response should this be needed via ‘panic alarms’, and all staff are protected via ‘lone worker’ devices which feed directly into central control for a quick response in emergencies.

About Refuge Services

Women and child residents in refuge benefit from a wide range of on-site specialist services, including:

Support to recover from domestic abuse

Domestic abuse support teams at each location provide focused support that enables each woman to regain their independence and empower them, and each child to come to terms with their experiences and recover.

Our experienced practitioners work with women, providing emotional and practical support through developing individually designed support plans, personal support sessions, groupwork interventions (Freedom Programme, Power to Change and Recovery Toolkit), residents’ support groups, advocacy, counselling, and help with re-housing and financial management, among other support.

Children's support services

We provide a positive environment where children and young people can and do feel safe and live free from abuse, helping them to thrive in all areas of their development.

Our Children’s Support Workers facilitate therapeutic one-to-one and group sessions, which provide opportunities for children to express their thoughts and feelings, both verbally and through drawing, writing, painting and free or structured play.

This support allows children to go some way to alleviate their traumatic experiences and work towards finding positive coping strategies for dealing with their emotions, rather than them becoming withdrawn and ‘shut down’, which can lead to issues in later life. These interventions are vitally important to our children’s future lives.

“The best thing about living here is that there are lots of things to do, the play sessions and the trips. And I have made lots of friends, I can talk about the bad stuff to staff and I feel better.” – Girl, 7

“My life has changed in a serious way since I came here. It is in a good way.” – Male, 13

Ethnic minority services

We understand that ethnic minority women face many different additional barriers, and we take these into consideration, providing additional support to enable them to reach social and economic independence, and move towards a safer life. We have dedicated bi-lingual support workers who offer specialist, flexible support to overcome language and culture barriers and support different faiths.

“I escaped to the refuge from a forced marriage. The bi-lingual staff understood my needs and supported my choices – finally, I was safe.”

Health support services

We co-ordinate a health care package for everyone we work with that includes basic health needs, from GP registration and dental care through to extended support from midwifery, mental health teams and specialist health agencies for drug and alcohol use or sexual abuse, to help those with higher level health needs.

We support survivors with physical, learning or sensory difficulties, mental health needs (such as depression or self harming behaviours), past and present dependency issues, sexual health needs, and pregnancy and associated issues.

Disability support services

All of our refuges feature special adaptations for a variety of disabilities, and can accommodate carer arrangements if requires, as well as health and safety features. SafeNet understand the complexity of escaping abuse where the carer is the perpetrator, and will work with women and health care providers or other supportive agencies to plan a safe escape to refuge. We have staff who use British Sign Language, and we have established relationships with specialist disability support agencies.

LGBTQI+ support services

SafeNet recognise the additional challenged faced by people within the LGBTQI+ community, and are proud to be working towards the Lancashire LGBT Quality Mark. Domestic abuse has no boundaries and can occur in any community. We understand that families and ex-partners can perpetrate abuse using the excuse of a person’s sexuality, and that transgender people experience high hidden levels of abuse.

Men's support services

SafeNet support men escaping domestic abuse in our generic refuge services up to the age of 16 and, for adults, we have safe-houses with both generic and dedicated spaces for me. We also support male survivors through our community-based services – in particular IDVA services – and have expertise and understanding of the different nature of the abuse dynamic faced by men, and tailor our support to meet those specific needs.

About SafeNet Community-Based Services

Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) support services

SafeNet delivers advocate support to those at the highest level of risk of serious harm through our Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) service. We offer high level crisis intervention, and practical and emotional support.

Our advisors assess risks, create and co-ordinate safety plans for women at high risk of violence and abuse, and represent the victims and survivors at the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC) for high risk victims. The IDVAs ensure that women benefit from increased confidence, a better understanding of legal proceedings, and knowledge of how to reduce their risk of further violence and abuse.

SafeNet offer support to women going to court for legal interventions, and signpost or refer clients into longer-term support service when the initial crisis is addressed. This service also offers bi-lingual support, and also helps male victims.

“I wouldn’t have taken it further without your help. Now I feel safer. You really listened to me and acted on what I wanted. I find it hard to talk to agencies, but you helped me to ask for help for me and my children. I get panicky about things but, when we talk and make a plan about how to deal with bad situations, I feel calm.”

Groupwork support services

SafeNet delivers several groupwork intervention programmes onsite at each refuge facility and also in the community. The groupwork programmes are delivered by trained and experienced domestic abuse practitioners who are qualified to deliver domestic abuse interventions. The programmes include:


  • The Freedom Programme – 12 week rolling programme
  • The Power to Change – 14 week programme
  • The Recovery Toolkit – 14 week programme
  • You and Me Mum – 10 week programme.

We aim to promote the safety and wellbeing of families, raise awareness in communities around healthy relationships, enhance recognition of abusive relationships, and strengthen pathways for vulnerable people into essential services.

Get Involved

Your support and involvement is very important to us, and there are so many ways you can help. You can donate goods, time and money by:

  • Volunteering – we have an active volunteer scheme
  • Raising funds as an individual via sponsorship or similar
  • Supporting residents staying in refuge – often by companies and groups
  • Organising larger fund and profile raising events
  • Community fundraising
  • Providing goods and resources for residents – food parcels, clothes, etc.
  • Raising awareness of the issues we deal with and the services we provide
  • Getting involved to support our regular appeals at harvest, Christmas, etc.

We are a growing charity and often have new job opportunities. What better way to get involved than to come and work for us?

Volunteer experience

My first experience of SafeNet was at a training session for a charity I volunteered for, who worked with families with young children. The training was around domestic abuse and issues associated with it. I really engaged with this training and it resonated with me in a deep way as, years previously, I had lived with domestic violence, and my son had been quite severely affected as well. I felt a passion to be involved and help other women rebuild their lives, and for them and their children to have the chance to start again. I wanted to be involved in this and thought I could help, and so I started the process of becoming a volunteer. I’ve loved it at the refuge – it is a relaxed, warm place to be, although there are many times where difficult situations have to be dealt with. That can be hard, but the staff are great and professional, and they always rise to any challenge. The staff team try so hard to help and support the women and their families. It is satisfying and fulfilling to be around. I have also found on a personal note that it has been empowering for me in my own life with regards to my confidence and self esteem. I also love the times I engage with the residents and play with the children; it makes me feel good and humble to be around them coping with some extremely challenging life situations. I have seen some of the women and their children grow and become less withdrawn whilst at the refuge – this is a brilliant thing to watch and experience. I’m so glad that I discovered SafeNet.

Our story

In Burnley in 1974, a local nun called Sister Veronica started a support group for women who approached her in church and asked her for support with violent and abusive husbands. At the time, there were:

  • No statutory services for women and children suffering violence at home
  • Little or no legal protection
  • Little or no sympathy from the authorities, who viewed domestic violence as a private, domestic matter. IT’S JUST A DOMESTIC – something to be kept behind closed doors.

Sister Veronica’s support group grew fast, gathering momentum and quickly registered as a charity under the name of Burnley and District Battered Wives and Children’s Association (BDBWCA). Sister Veronica and other volunteers campaigned locally and, two years later in 1976, with the support of Burnley Borough Council and other local agencies, they manged to secure a large four-bedroomed Victorian terrace on Church Street in Burnley and opened Burnley’s first refuge. Though it was crowded and poorly resourced, the refuge kept hundreds of women and children safe for many years. Demand for safe refuge grew over the years, and many families were sadly turned away as there was often no available space at the refuge.

In the early 1990s, a steering group made up of the BDBWCA charity, Burnley Council and several other interested parties successfully gained public funds from central government to create a much larger 20 unit, purpose built refuge which opened in 1998 and has been fully utilised ever since.

Since then, SafeNet has grown steadily, and now delivers refuge services across Lancashire, Greater Manchester and the wider North West, with refuge facilities in:

  • Burnley
  • Lancaster
  • Preston
  • Rochdale
  • And community-based support services in Blackpool.

We have extended SafeNet services into specialist support areas, including Complex Needs Recovery and Men’s Services, which include support with domestic and interpersonal abuse.


A word from John and Penny Clough, SafeNet Patrons

When we were invited to be Patrons of SafeNet, we were unsure whether to accept. It is an honour to be asked, but we quickly thought of ‘responsibility’ and ‘what is the role’ and ‘are we good enough to fulfill the role?’. What is certain is that the care, support and safety of domestic abuse victims is close to our hearts.

SafeNet has given us, as Patrons, a much greater understanding of the essential support services we provide as an organisation. Sadly, the other side of the coin is the awareness that there are victims we cannot yet help and, of couse, the financial restraints that put pressures on SafeNet, and what we can do in the future.

We are doing our best to raise awareness regarding future funding of refuges in Lancashire and beyond. Every MP has been contacted and questions have been raised in Parliament. It is an ongoing situation, and there is support from some MPs and media. It is certainly our aim to ensure that the provision of funding for domestic abuse refuges is taken seriously.

We do what we can to promote recognition of abuse, prevent abuse, and support people who are victims, and those making the move to escape abuse, to get their lives back and live in safety, free from abuse, and this drives us in what we do.

Sometimes we succeed in promoting change, sometimes we don’t, but we will not give up trying. We are dedicated and committed to making a positive difference to victims’ lives.


John and Penny Clough

Syncora - The Calico Group Together

Part of Syncora

SafeNet is part of Syncora – combining expertise and innovation to achieve maximum social impact.

Syncora brings together specialist companies and charities with a shared vision. Together, we achieve maximum social impact by creating effective, collaborative services that make a real difference to people’s lives.

Our flexible approach, our award-winning staff, and our wide range of expertise help us adapt to the fast-changing environment in which we work. Our purpose, imagination and passion drive us to find solutions to problems in exciting new ways.

For more information, visit the Syncora website.