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Date : 20 September, 2014

One of the region’s leading domestic abuse agencies is supporting a special campaign to help save refuges throughout Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.

West Mercia Women’s Aid is backing the national Women’s Aid campaign, entitled ‘SOS – Save Our Services’.

Jan Frances, Chief Executive of West Mercia Women’s Aid explained : “The UK’s world leading national network of refuges is facing an urgent crisis.  Across the three counties, more and more specialist refuges are experiencing massive funding cuts and being closed down.  Ultimately, this crisis will cost lives.”

The statistics make for sobering reading.  On a typical day in the UK, 103 children and 155 women are turned away from refuges as there is no space for them.  Other statistics include :

  • Between 2010 and July 2014, the number of specialist refuge services decreased from 187 to 155;
  • In the UK – according to Council of Europe recommendations – there is a shortfall of 1727 refuge bedspaces, or 32 per cent;
  • In one day in 2013, 155 women and their 103 children were turned away from refuge because they could not be accommodated;
  • 48 per cent of 167 domestic abuse services in the UK said that they were running services without funding.  6 refuge services were being run without dedicated funding and using up their reserves to keep their services going;
  • Between April and July 2014, 10 specialist domestic violence services across the UK lost funding for services they were providing; all but one of these 9 services lost their services to a non-specialist service provider.

Jan continued : “We are calling on the government to Save Our Services by committing to preserve the national network of specialist refuges; we urge them to explore a better model of national refuge funding and commissioning.”

West Mercia Women’s Aid is encouraging residents in the three counties to support the campaign by doing the following :

  • Send an SOS signal by downloading a template and writing a word or phrase that explains why refuges should be protected;
  • Tweet support @womensaid #saverefugessavelivescampaign;
  • Tweet your MP;
  • Write to your MP.

Jan concluded : “Being in a refuge might be the first safe place that children and young people may have had in a long time.  Specialist provision for children and young people from refuge staff is vital as it allows them to have their health and educational needs addressed individually.  Children and young people can also explore the impact of the abuse they have experienced in an understanding environment, which can minimise long term negative, cognitive, behavioural and emotional effects, enabling them to reach their potential.”

Specialist refuges are services which are designed to meet the needs specifically of women, domestic abuse survivors and children.  The specialist and women-only nature of services ensure s that women and children feel safe, secure and supported and removes any barriers to them finding a safe place when they are escaping domestic abuse.  Specialist refuges help women and children escape, cope and rebuild their lives after domestic abuse.

For further information call West Mercia Women’s Aid on 01432 356146.