Barnstaple women’s refuge ‘vital’ to victims, warns domestic abuse charity

Devon County Council has awarded a new contract to run domestic abuse services across the county. Devon County Council has awarded a new contract to run domestic abuse services across the county.

Monday, February 3, 2014
2:38 PM

Charity vows to keep safe house open despite losing £2.4m council contract.

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A BARNSTAPLE domestic abuse charity says it is committed to keeping a women’s refuge in the town – despite losing out on a £2.4 million Devon County Council contract to run the service.

North Devon Against Domestic Abuse (NDADA) has delivered domestic abuse services in North Devon for 37 years but discovered on Friday that the council had awarded a new three-year contract to Wiltshire-based Splitz Support Service.

Under the terms of the new deal, Splitz does not have to provide a refuge and is not expected to do so when the current contract expires next month.

Executive director Fran Lewis said Splitz would help families to stay in their own homes where possible.

“We believe strongly in dealing with domestic abuse at its source. Through providing help to enable perpetrators to change their harmful behaviour we believe that families will be safer.

“The important thing is that individuals who experience domestic abuse need not be alone; there is somewhere to turn, and we and others are here to help.”

But Susan Wallis, chief executive of NDADA argued a local safe house for victims was ‘vital’.

She said: “We believe that safe accommodation is vital to the protection of people affected by domestic abuse and our community cannot afford to be without this provision.

“We do not intend for our story to end here. The trustees of NDADA have taken the brave decision to continue with our work in refuge and safe housing and the other projects for which we have alternate funding such as Children in Need.

“We will not be delivering outreach services which will continue to be delivered in a different way by the newly commissioned company.

“NDADA hopes to be able to work alongside this company whose remit is only to deliver a very specific service on behalf of DCC.”

Ms Wallis said the charity’s flagship charity shop Re:store, in Boutport Street, would be at the centre of the NDADA’s ‘rebirth’.

Across Devon, figures show 23,741 women and 14,971 men (aged 16+) experienced domestic violence in the past 12 months.

The council said it is proposing to invest a further £17.4 million on services that support the most vulnerable.

Councillor Andrea Davis, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “The awarding of this contract underlines the council’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable people in our society. I’m confident that Splitz will continue to support victims of domestic violence and also reduce the number of repeat referrals within the county.

“They have everything in place to provide a consistent, countywide service with highly trained advisors on hand to support victims and their families and help keep them safe from harm and further abuse.”

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