Refuges for the victims of domestic violence offer the most employment opportunities for women interested in working in this field. Refuges only employ females for obvious reasons, and they are permitted to do this under the Occupational Requirement clause of the Equality Act 2010. Within the field of domestic violence, which includes rape crisis centres, there is a demand for support workers with a range of skills and experience.
Search the job vacancies advertised by Women's Aid and Refuge. These two organisations have the most substantial networks of women's refuges and advice centres.
Check the qualifications required by these employers for a variety of posts, but focus on the type of support work that really interests you and which you have some experience of. Some posts don't specify paper qualifications, such as the NVQ certificate (level 2) or diploma (level 3) but may simply ask for experience of working with people, and perhaps some specific skill such as the ability to drive a van.
Refuge offers its own training scheme for support workers. In partnership with Skills for Justice awards, employees can study for either level 2 or level 3 QCF exams, which are similar to the NVQs for care workers.
Talk to Women's Aid and Refuge, explaining your wish to be a support worker. They can offer you guidance about the different areas of support work, such as organising accommodation or working with the children of abused mothers.
Get a DBS check. This is the new name for the criminal records check, usually referred to as a CRB. All care workers need a DBS check. You need to give the Disclosure and Barring Service a copy of your passport or photo driving licence and valid proof of your current address.
Most support worker job adverts state you need to have a DBS check, so get one in advance of applying for jobs. You will also need one for volunteer work.
Offer to work on a voluntary basis if you can. You can gain experience and you will be in a good position to hear about upcoming jobs. Refuge accepts volunteers for its 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline, and a small number in its fundraising department.
Any organisation welcomes fundraising activities. Check the Refuge and Women's Aid websites for fundraising suggestions.