At the end of a year in which Chelsea Football Club and our supporters have joined forces with Refuge to raise awareness and valuable funds to support women and children living with domestic abuse, the UK charity has a special message to express their gratitude.

Back in the spring when the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, reports indicated that the crisis would lead to a sharp increase in domestic abuse incidents due to the periods of isolation and lockdown.

In response, the club acted swiftly to support the life-changing and life-saving work of Refuge, the country’s largest single provider of domestic abuse services, which offers specialist, confidential support to women experiencing domestic abuse.

Critical funds were raised, including by supporters who opted to donate the refunded money from their 2019/20 season tickets to the charity, and the club matched all donations received. The £100,000 prize money awarded to Chelsea Women for winning the Barclays FA Women’s Super League was also donated to the charity. The club’s support was led by owner Roman Abramovich and the campaign raised over £500,000.

You can still donate to the charity now. Please click here to do so

Refuge’s open letter to Chelsea supporters is produced in full below:

Dear Chelsea supporters,

When the Government announced a nationwide lockdown in April 2020, we at Refuge knew what this meant for thousands of vulnerable women and children living with domestic abuse. With our frontline services already at capacity, calls to our helpline increased to a level which has never been seen before in our history. The situation was critical.

Thanks to your generosity this year, you have helped women to leave their homes and escape abuse; you have given children a safe space to stay and enabled our helpline to keep running despite restrictions. Your support has helped over 6,000 women. When these women needed support the most, you stepped up.

Case study of Poppy

When Child Support Worker, Nina, welcomed Poppy* recently , she knew that Poppy was missing something.

'When a woman and her child arrive at a refuge, there are so many things which need sorting out quickly: a meal, making sure they’ve not been – and can’t be – traced by their abuser, night clothes and toothbrushes.

'But for a child suddenly arriving in a new and unfamiliar place, tearful, afraid and in shock, the toy or pet they’ve left behind can be the most important thing. What Poppy needed most was something soft to cuddle. She was so withdrawn she could barely speak, although her mum tried to encourage her, but gradually I learned that Poppy had a particular toy which had been left behind in their rush.'

Nina picked up an unassuming teddy bear up one day and brought it back to the Refuge. When Poppy saw the bear, her eyes lit up. She reached out for it at once and held it close to her.

'Over the next few days and weeks, her whole demeanour changed. She started to participate in conversation and activities, and wherever she was, her teddy was right there with her. We never know what children need most of all when they arrive, but we do know they all need reassurance, comfort and to feel safe.'

Thanks to all the Chelsea supporters we were able to support women and children quickly in the first lockdown and throughout the second. We now work with and support 7,000 women every day in the UK and 4,000 children. We quite simply couldn’t have scaled up our work and save lives without your contribution.

If you would like to support Refuge further during the festive period, if you are able to, please consider making a donation to Refuge this Christmas:

£15 could go towards a gift card for a child staying in a refuge, enabling them to choose their present this Christmas.

£25 could provide Christmas dinner for a family staying in a refuge.

£110 could fund the running of the Helpline for an hour, allowing us to be there for women when they need us most.

£500 could support children over the Christmas holiday, funding a Child Support Worker for a week and providing rest and healing time for mothers.