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Save refuges, save lives


Women's Aid, campaign, SOS save refuges save livesWomen’s Aid research shows a 32 per cent shortfall of refuge bed spaces in England.

The national domestic violence charity Women’s Aid recently launched an SOS campaign calling on the government to preserve ‘the national network of specialist refuges by exploring a new model of national refuge funding and commissioning.’

Concerns have been increasing at the number of specialist domestic violence services experiencing continued budget cuts.

The cuts are proving devastating, as refuges around the country are being forced to remain open by running on their financial reserves or close.

Each closure could cost lives.

Polly Neate, Women’s Aid chief executive, said, ‘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.

‘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.’

As the national government continues to demand savings from local councils, commissioners are being forced to make difficult decisions over which services to fund.

Evidence suggests that specialist services are increasingly being cut adrift.

Women’s Aid research found that ‘between April and July 2014, ten specialist domestic violence services across England lost funding for services they were providing.

‘All but one of those nine lost to a non-specialist service provider.’

Specialist provision is essential because it focuses on minimising the long-term negative effects of abuse while maximising the potential for women and children to re-build their lives.

Sadly, ‘on one day in 2013, 155 women and their 103 children were turned away from refuge because they could not be accommodated.’

Metropolitan Police crime figures show that in the 12 months to July 2014, overall numbers of rape, other sexual and domestic crime had all risen in London.

The Home Office is currently consulting on strengthening the law on domestic violence, particularly in making coercive, controlling behaviour explicitly illegal, bringing the legal definition in line with the government’s non-statutory definition of domestic abuse.

The consultation runs until 15 October 2014.

Women’s Aid is asking supporters to write to and to Tweet their MPs, as well as sign the petition supporting the campaign. Tweet #saverefugessavelives

To find your MP’s address, email and Twitter details click here.

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