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Save Carlisle Women’s Refuge


Campaign to save Carlisle women's refugeSince 2010, domestic violence services across the UK have lost over 30 per cent of their funding.

Life-saving services are disappearing, and those that remain are so over stretched that they are forced to turn away 1 in 3 women.

Women and non-binary people facing violence cannot escape unless there are public services to support them in doing so.

And in the week of the ‪#‎Budget2016 Cumbria County Council has revealed that Carlisle Women’s Refuge, their only funded refuge for survivors of domestic violence, will close in just two weeks’ time.

It was opened in 1999 by Women’s Aid but has since been run by Impact Housing Association, with funding support from Cumbria County Council.

Impact Housing has not sought to renew its contract to run the refuge, since the county council decided to reduce funding by £500,000 in its new budget. And no other association has yet stepped up.

Carlisle Women’s Refuge, explaining the situation as they understand it so far, said: ‘The refuge has been in our community for 30 years as a safe space for women to go who are fleeing domestic abuse.

‘The refuge has supported 139 women and their children in the last four years to recover and re-build their lives.

‘Impact Housing successfully ran the service for 25 years with funding from the County Council. Last year the council put the contract for services out for tender with a 12% reduction in funds and a change in the way the funding is received.

‘As we understand, this was due to cuts from central government, the fact that refuge services are not a statutory duty of the council and because the money was not ring fenced, however we are waiting for a response from the County Council.

‘Impact decided after much deliberation that the contract was not viable and that it could not realistically bid for the service saying that this, “was very difficult and not done lightly”.

‘No other providers have bid and therefore the current provision is to close on 31 March 16.

‘As we understand it, no attempt has been made thus far to save the service and no negotiations have taken place.

‘The campaign to Save Cumbria Women’s Refuge aims to ensure that the provision for a women’s refuge in Carlisle is made a priority.

‘We will not allow these women to be forgotten and to risk more lost lives as a result of domestic abuse.’

You can help by signing this petition and liking and sharing Carlisle Women’s Refuge’s facebook page.

Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes – a staunch campaigner for help for victims of domestic violence and sex abuse – is also bewildered and angered by the closure decision.

“I believe there is an inherent cultural problem across the county in relation to domestic violence and abuse,” he told The Cumberland Times. “There is a willingness to believe we don’t have a problem. We do.

“Anyone in need of help can, of course, contact the victims’ advocate at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. But I see closure of this refuge as a retrograde step.”

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