Wycombe Women’s Aid currently employs 16 workers – 11 full time and 5 part time – and can accommodate 12 families in 4 safe houses. We have a refuge office which includes a group room and support rooms and outreach premises which include 5 support rooms, a group room and a training room.
You can learn about our history by clicking on the items below, each item will expand and collapse the other items as you work down the page.
1978 - 1979
1978 – The beginning
In 1978 a group of about 10 women set up a ‘drop-in’ facility, one evening a week for women to find out about the resources available to them locally. The majority of women who came were asking for advice about getting themselves out of abusive relationships.
The group decided to find out how extensive the problem of domestic violence was in the High Wycombe area and invited the police to talk to them. The police response was that there was no domestic violence in High Wycombe which contradicted what women were saying at the drop-in.
1979 – WWA established
In 1979 Wycombe Women’s Aid was established and, using information from various refuges already established and the drop-in, they compiled a report and commenced lobbying for a refuge in High Wycombe.
1980 - 1989
1981 – We are open
In July 1981 the first refuge in High Wycombe opened. The house was acquired from Wycombe District Council at a peppercorn rent and the central heating was installed using money donated from an ‘Outreach service user’. Women were able to access Wycombe Women’s Aid via the Samaritans. Charitable status was achieved, funding was received from the Manpower Services Commission and the first paid worker was employed. Wycombe Women’s Aid operated as a feminist collective consisting of the original group of women working on a voluntary basis.
1985 – First house opened
In 1985 Wycombe District Council provided a second house and in 1989 the third house was acquired. Wycombe Women’s Aid became a Company Limited by guarantee and changed their operational structure to a formal Management Committee.
In 1992 the Playroom was extended and fully equipped.
1990 - 1999
In 1992 the Playroom was extended and fully equipped.
1994 – Registered with Bucks County Council
In 1994 Wycombe Women’s Aid became registered for sessional and day care with Bucks County Council. An Outreach Worker was employed to work with women in the community and to raise awareness about domestic violence with other voluntary, statutory and non-statutory organisations in the locality.
In 1996, for the first time, Wycombe Women’s Aid provided a Social Work student with a placement – this is something that has continued every year.
1997 – Outreach Worker supports Asian women
In 1997 an Outreach Worker was employed to work specifically with Asian women in the community. This service offered bilingual and cultural one to one outreach support to Asian women in the community who were either living in a violent situation or who were working through the effects of past domestic violence.
2000 - 2009
In August 2004 Supporting People carried out a review of Wycombe Women’s Aid and the results were extremely complimentary, stating that ‘WWA makes an essential and valuable contribution to community strategies in the three districts in covers (Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks)’. Supporting People awarded Wycombe Women’s Aid with their Certificate of Accreditation in all 5 criteria areas (Financial Viability, Competent Administrative Procedures, Effective Employment Policies, Robust Management Procedures and Competence/Track Record).
2008 – Bucks Housing Association steps in
In 2008 Wycombe Women’s Aid began the long process of moving 3 of the 5 refuge houses. Bucks Housing Association took over 4 of the 5 leases from Wycombe District Council and Co-op Homes and extensively renovated 3 houses ready for occupation by families. In all, the process took about 3 years – the final house move took place in February 2011. Bucks Housing Association are now the landlords for 4 of the refuge houses (3 safe houses and the office house) and Wycombe District Council remains the landlord for 1 safe house. The houses renovated by Bucks Housing Association were completed to a very high standard, thus creating very comfortable living conditions for the families.
In June 2008 a weekly children’s Therapeutic Group was introduced for children living in the community who had been affected by domestic violence.
2009 – Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy support added.
2010 - today
In 2010 Wycombe Women’s Aid began strengthening its links with local Children’s Centres. The Child Development Workers now enjoy a good relationship with the most local centre and women and children are able to access a wide range of services and activities.
2012 – Outreach team moves to new premises.
In August 2012 the Outreach team moved out of the office house at the refuge into new premises, freeing up much needed space at the refuge. The new premises provide comfortable space for women in the community to meet with workers rather than Wycombe Women’s Aid having to find and hire space. The new premises has enabled the rapid expansion of the Outreach service and several groups are now held for women living in the community – The Freedom Programme, Self-Esteem Building Group, Coffee Morning and Drop-In.
In September 2012 the Helping Hands programme was introduced. This programme is for children who are living in the community (but no longer with the abuser) and focuses on Protective Behaviours.
2014 – Specialist Young People’s Service added
In October 2014 Wycombe Women’s Aid employed a Youth Worker to work specifically with young people (11 – 17 years) living in the refuge and in the local community. The Youth Worker works with young people who have witnessed domestic violence in the family home or experienced domestic violence within their own intimate relationship as well as delivering training and awareness raising sessions in local secondary schools.
2015 – Expansion of the Outreach service
Throughout 2015 the Outreach service expanded in several different areas. Following the success of the Open Door group and Freedom Programme in High Wycombe, these groups also began running in Chesham, thereby enabling easier access for women living in the Chiltern area of Buckinghamshire. An additional Freedom Programme was also introduced on a Wednesday evening to support women unable to attend a Freedom Programme during the day due to work or other commitments.
In April 2015 Wycombe Women’s Aid began running a new group in the community called You & Me, Mum. This is a 10 week group work programme which aims to support women around understanding how domestic violence can impact on their relationships and parenting of their children.
In September 2015 a children’s counselling service was introduced for children living either in the refuge or in the community who had been affected by domestic violence.
2016 – Change to some services
In 2016 we sadly had to end our children’s counselling service due to a cut in funding. This service is much-needed and we will be exploring alternative funding sources so that children can continue to benefit from specialist support.
2016 – Modern technology!
In February 2016 Wycombe Women’s Aid went live with On Track, an online case management system specifically designed for specialist domestic abuse organisations. This enabled all case files across the organisation to become computerised, not only reducing paper but also allowing more streamlined reporting and an easier system for identifying which women are using, or have used, WWA’s services.
Wycombe Women's Aid P.O. Box 1477 High Wycombe Bucks HP11 9HP Registered Charity No. 299946 Registered Company No. 2245478 ©2016 Wycombe Women's Aid
Refuge: 01494 461367 Outreach: 07890 456907 IDVA: 07483 159153
Asian Women's Helpline: TBC