Our History



In 1975 a small group of women came together and formed Canterbury Women’s Refuge. They acquire a squat in Stour Street, and this was the start of our history. It was a time when nobody talked about domestic violence – what went on behind closed doors was private.


Canterbury Women’s Refuge receives the leasehold from Crowbridge to move into a disused pub housing 7 women and their children at any one time. The pub’s name was ‘The Rising Sun’. From the start we always operated an ‘Open Refuge’ – this philosophy still stands today. Pat Edwards volunteered and campaigned for us and today still serves as our Chairperson.


In 1982 we officially employ a joint management position – Carol Topolski and Helly Langley. Helly has remained active with us and serves as a trustee today.


Our services become more than providing emergency accommodation and we begin providing advice, information and support to more families. Canterbury City Council helps us to fund the nursery. We become a registered charity. We introduce our telephone helpline service which still receives 220 calls a month!


We begin to support women as advocates assisting them with their housing, finances and children’s education issues. This is a role which has evolved into our modern day Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) and Outreach service.


We observe difficulties in the relationships between women and their children. We help improve the way in which families interact and help educate the effects of domestic abuse on the family.


We introduce a FREE counselling service – run and managed by experienced psycotherapists (Anne Lyttle and Louise Mackinney). A service that has run EVERY working day since. Both Anne and Louise are still working for us today. Anne is our Service Director and Louise manages our counselling service.


We create services around identifying the way abuse affects children. We begin to shape our services around ensuring children have positive male and female role models. We employ a male support worker and employ a child therapist.


We introduce our Outreach service so we can begin to reach those families in our communities who can be supported while remaining at home. Simply providing emergency accommodation isn’t enough.


We start to offer our Legal Advice Surgeries which evolve into our weekly multi-agency One Stop Shops. We create a new programme for women to recognise the signs of an abusive partner.


Refuges gain additional income from Government, Crowfield recliam their leasehold to our refuge service. We continue our therapeutic services to women and children.


Started our Adolescent programmes employing two experienced therapists with significant experience in working with troubled relationships. We develop our Young People at Risk programme and our national award-winning Love Shouldn’t Hurt programme for schools.


We form the Kent Domestic Abuse Consortium (KDAC) with Choices, Sateda and Oasis) to enable us to bid for Kent County Council contracts. Rising Sun becomes the professional lead for our work with Children and Young People. Rising Sun work with male and female victims who are identified as high risk and living with domestic abuse in Canterbury district, Ashford and Shepway.


We launch our Family Now (parenting) programme, All About Me (for young children), Positive Relationships (young people). We start to offer training to professionals.