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Who we are

Welcome to WWIN’s specialist domestic abuse service on our 40th Anniversary year. We provide a wide range of direct services to address the needs of adults, children, family members, friends and communities. We support student placements to gain experience, provide training to practitioners from a range of disciplines, and facilitate learning through groups and community events. 


We are an independent registered charity with services across Wearside serving a population of almost 350,000. We work in partnership with a range of statutory and voluntary sector providers, local businesses, community groups and most importantly, listening and responding to our beneficiaries as experts by experience. 

What we do:

If there’s an injustice or a consequence of domestic abuse - that’s our business as we know domestic abuse can impact on almost every aspect of life, be it personal safety, housing, physical and mental health, immigration matters, legal issues, money, work... the list is long and can be overwhelming. Our job is to simplify these processes and work toward a safer independent future. 


We don’t do all these things alone, we work with communities through education and engagement, equipping them with the knowledge and understanding to spot the early signs of abuse and respond effectively, and create a cultural shift in attitudes to domestic abuse. Together we can achieve more, and we welcome volunteers, donors, and supporters who like us, want to see an end to domestic abuse. 

We aim to:

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Deliver accessible, effective, specialist domestic abuse services that are informed by service users’ experiences.   

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Challenge inequality in access to safety, justice, health and wellbeing, and campaign for social change, including shaping future policy and practice.   

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Work with communities through education and engagement, equipping them with the knowledge and understanding to spot the early signs of abuse and respond effectively, and create a cultural shift in attitudes to domestic abuse. 


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At WWIN we use the terms victim and survivor interchangeably to refer to people subjected to abuse.

Some people prefer the term 'survivor' as it reflects the fact that people subjected to abuse are not passive victims, they survive, manage and cope in a variety of ways, all of the time. However, others prefer the term 'victim 'as it actively acknowledges their experience and that in many cases people have been a victim of a crime. 

At WWIN we use both terms interchangeably, but we are always led by each person's personal preference when speaking to individuals.


Domestic Abuse & Gender

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Domestic Abuse is a gendered crime, which means that statistically more women are victims of domestic abuse and more men are perpetrators of domestic abuse.

As a feminist organisation, our approach is rooted in an understanding of the gendered nature of violence against women and girls as both a cause and a consequence of societal inequality between men and women, and recognises the way factors such as age, ethnicity, sexuality and disability can affect women’s experiences.   

For more info on who is affected by domestic abuse go to: Who is affected?  

Domestic Abuse & Gender

What we believe

What we can help you with:

It’s sometimes difficult to know what you need - you can talk to us confidentially about your situation and we can help you by discussing some of the options available to you. You may not be ready to take any action and that’s fine, or you may need urgent help. Everyone’s situation is different, our starting points are your safety, rights, health and wellbeing. We broadly work under these three areas:

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Our Journey

WWIN was first established in 1983, and started its life as Washington Women in Need. The charity was created by women from domestic abuse advice centres, local community groups and past tenants of a women’s refuge. They recognised the need for specialised support for women within the local area.


The name of the charity changed to Wearside Women in Need as the service expanded across the whole of Wearside. Throughout the 90’s, WWIN was mainly run by volunteers. We acknowledge and appreciate how WWIN was created and what it means for local people to support and help other members of our community to live free of domestic abuse.   


We are proud to carry this same value today.   

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The start

Washington Women in Need (as we were originally known) was launched.  A grassroots community development, the original aims of WWIN were to set up a women’s centre. 

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The Elms

The Elms offices were opened in Washington, giving WWIN a public face, a place where survivors could get help and advice, and volunteers could be trained.  The idea of high street offices for survivors of domestic abuse was, at the time, a radical concept and remains a good example of how WWIN has pioneered new initiatives.    ​

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Wearside Women in Need

WWIN became the managers of the Sunderland Refuge project. Washington Women in Need became Wearside Women in Need.   ​

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New Refuge

WWIN opened a new Refuge in Washington.

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1994 - 1999

Several new initiatives were set-up by WWIN including a young women’s project, move-on accommodation, Homeless Action Programme, educational work with young people, outreach and intervention services for children, women and men affected by domestic abuse.    ​

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24hr Helpline

24 Hour free helpline launched. WWIN purchased Sunderland Refuge.

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Children as victims

​Launched “Whispers from the top of the stairs” our research on the forgotten victims of domestic abuse. Children are now recognised as ‘victims in their own right’ in the 2021 Domestic Abuse Act.

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2007 - 2016

WWIN hit by funding cuts but continues to deliver safe accommodation and outreach services.

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Change that Lasts

WWIN is one of three locations chosen by Women’s Aid to implement a progressive new national pilot scheme, ‘Change That Lasts’ funded through the National Lottery and aimed at shaping the future of service provision and standards.

More about: Change that Lasts approach

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A new Board of Trustees and CEO are appointed. Our main office moves to Sunderland and an ambitious modernisation plan is instigated to upgrade all WWIN’s properties and re-structure teams.

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Strengthening services

WWIN expands and strengthens the outreach and refuge teams, introduces counselling for survivors in partnership with My Sisters Place (Middlesbrough). 


Work starts to convert an old refuge building into modern self-contained flats to support the high level of refuge referrals.

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Covid-19 pandemic

All services remain open throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. WWIN opens a new Recovery Project supporting survivors with multiple and intersecting needs through a holistic approach. 

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Family & friends approach

Awarded 5 years of funding from Comic Relief to develop a new 'family, friends & communities' approach to tackling DA and supporting survivors. The new project is called ‘Findaway’.


Modernisation work is completed on the old refuge building providing six self-contained modern flats for single women.

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Secure funding

Awarded a 5-to-7 year contract from Sunderland Council to provide domestic abuse services across Wearside. New projects include a specialist Children and Young People’s therapeutic service and a new Perpetrator’s service (Right Turn)

WWIN purchased a new office base in Sunderland to be our front face.

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Expansion of perpetrator interventions

Expansion of our perpetrator service offer adding three new approaches. The service now provides: (I) Early intervention and prevention approach, (ii) Right Turn main service, (iii) Interventions with High Harm perpetrators and (iv) The Advance programme, a partnership with Wear Recovery substance misuse service.

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2023 Onwards...

Looking forward to implementing some ambitious plans and new concepts as we review our progress and continue to strengthen our approach to meet the needs of our beneficiaries. 

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Our Funders

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Our Projects

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Our funders
Our journey
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