IN 1971, the world’s first safe house for women opened its doors in the UK. For the first time, women and children could go somewhere safe and warm, and have an ear to bend, and a shoulder to cry on, while they got back on their feet. It was aptly named Refuge, and today there are many more across the country, helping every day up to 6,000 people living with domestic violence.
The charity’s rise meant that what was once seen as a private matter, to be handled behind closed doors, was finally taken seriously. The safety of women, at last, raised societal questions alongside interim solutions, and it is now the country’s largest domestic and gender-based violence service. 2019 sees Picturehouse Cinemas team up with Refuge to illuminate the efforts of the charity, and the need for its work. Picturehouse will drum up fundraising events and raise awareness across its 25 (and counting) cinemas, and help project the message nationwide.
Picturehouse believes that cinema helps transform lives, and that for many, a trip to the movies provides a perfect place to revel in culture and entertainment. However, those using a Refuge may well see the cinema as a place of emotional sanctuary, and somewhere public, social and escapist. With this in mind, Picturehouse has already got to work and, through a team-building treasure hunt in Cambridge, collected 700 cinema tickets to donate to those using Refuge.
Overwhelmingly, it’s women who use the service (more than eight out of 10 victims of homicides by intimate partners are female), yet Refuge patron Sir Patrick Stewart talks openly about how growing up with a violent father proves it’s not a “women’s problem”: “We are the ones who are committing the offences, performing the cruel acts, controlling and denying. It’s the men.”
Refuge’s services are open to anyone – men, women and children living in fear of domestic abuse, which, as Stewart says, is an issue “protected by silence”. Picturehouse and Refuge’s partnership aims to raise the charity’s voice and substantial funds to ensure its work is seen and heard, and is able to continue. Stay tuned to see how you can help Picturehouse meet its fundraising target, and help transform lives through the power of cinema.