Women’s lives ‘at risk‘ thanks to government refuge cuts
THOUSANDS of women’s lives are at risk as government cuts to refuges take their toll, a charity warned yesterday.
Women’s Aid has launched a campaign urging government to stop removing funding from many vital domestic violence services, after figures show two women a week are killed at the hands of their partners.
The organisation’s research also revealed that there are currently almost 2,000 women awaiting refuge spaces to free up.
“Perpetrators of domestic violence will do everything they can to control their victim, which is why specialist support services are essential to help women escape and build independent lives,” said Women’s Aid chief executive Polly Neate.
She added that “a national network of support services, which allows women to get help locally or escape the area as they need, is essential to protecting women and children.”
The group has helped over 20,000 women and children find safe housing last year, but widespread cuts have made their task increasingly tougher.
In a single day over 150 women and their kids were sent back to their homes due to lack of space, risking further violence from their abusers.
Nine domestic violence aid organisations in England alone saw their funding vanish in 2013, with financial support being handed to private-sector, non-specialist organisations instead.
Coventry Haven is one such case, having seen all of its financial support slashed by new government policies.
The centre was left to survive on its reserves and is now struggling to keep its doors open.
The Women’s Aid campaign — called SOS Save Refuges, Save Lives — urges government to keep funding specialist providers rather than outsourcing the services to potentially unaccountable private groups.
A petition launched together with the appeal reads: “We want the government to commit to preserving the national network of specialist refuges and exploring a new model of funding and commissioning for refuges which supports a sustainable service and high-quality care.”
With over 2,000 signatures collected so far, it further demands that local authorities keep delivering support to victims and survivors of domestic violence.