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New report evaluates ‘life-changing’ home for women

Published: 26 September 2023 at 14:00

Mother and daughter

Researchers interviewed women from military families fleeing domestic abuse

Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) have described a home dedicated to women and children from military families who are fleeing domestic abuse as a “life-changing” service.

Stepping Stone Home – the female-only home for servicewomen, the spouses of serving or former UK military personnel, and their children – has been operated by SSAFA, the UK’s oldest tri-service Armed Forces charity, since 1997.

In those 26 years, it has provided a safe and welcoming home for scores of women and children leaving domestic abuse, giving them an environment where they can begin to form a new life elsewhere. Women are supported to access local health, social, legal, and education services, and to achieve their own personal goals. 

The evaluation of SSAFA’s Stepping Stone Home by academics from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), published today, describes it as “… a unique and invaluable service”. 

ARU Senior Research Fellow Dr Louise Morgan said:

“Our service evaluation has revealed the life-changing impact that SSAFA’s Stepping Stone Home has on the lives of women of the Armed Forces community who may find themselves without somewhere to live. 

“The overwhelmingly positive experiences of women who had used the service are testament to the hard work and dedication of the Stepping Stone Home staff members.” 

She added that the evaluation has highlighted important details of the experiences of women who had accessed support from SSAFA in order to move away from domestic abuse.

Dr Morgan concluded:

“Building on the findings of this evaluation will enable SSAFA to continue to develop ways of meeting the evolving needs of this important part of the military community.

“The report explains how the knowledge gained from these women’s stories can be used to inform domestic abuse policy and to further develop existing support services, and sets out areas requiring further research.”

Lynne Doherty, SSAFA’s Director of Social Care Operations, said:

“We’re immensely grateful to Dr Morgan and her colleagues at Anglia Ruskin University for this report, which will help SSAFA and Stepping Stone Home evolve our work and our support for women in the military community leaving harmful and potentially dangerous domestic abuse in the future. 

“There are some clear recommendations within the report for us to explore and it will be vital we continue to work in partnership with others to ensure that those who have experienced abuse know about and receive the support they need to rebuild their lives and establish normality for themselves and their children going forward.”

The research evaluation was carried out by ARU’s Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research, and has been published today on the SSAFA website