Barnstaple women’s refuge will ‘stay open’ despite funding setback
11:16 25 February 2014
Charity vows to find its own funding to support domestic abuse victims.
AN eleventh-hour move to safeguard funding for a women’s refuge in Barnstaple has been quashed by Devon County Council.
A motion to amend the budget, proposed by Barnstaple North county councillor Brian Greenslade, failed to gain the support of the council at a meeting on Thursday.
Now, the charity that runs the refuge, which supports between 50 and 60 families a year, will have to rely on community fundraising to keep the service open.
During the year it runs at a 97 per cent occupancy rate and is currently full, supporting eight women and 16 children.
Susan Wallis, chief executive of North Devon Against Domestic Abuse, vowed the charity would keep it open with ‘grassroots funding’.
“We are keeping it open – that’s a definite,” she said.
“We haven’t found alternative funding yet and are planning to run on reserves. That should see us through the next for or five months while we look for alternative funding.”
Ms Wallis said the charity, which has delivered domestic abuse services in North Devon for 37 years, would be boosted by the opening of a second charity store at the end of the month.
“Re:Store and Re:Store Junior will be the base from which we start our fundraising,” she said.
“But we will also be returning to grass roots fundraising and asking the community to help out, including support groups in all our outlying areas.”
As reported in the Gazette earlier this month the council has awarded a three-year domestic abuse contract to Wiltshire-based Splitz Support Service, which does not have to provide a refuge under the terms of the new deal.
Following Thursday’s meeting at County Hall in Exeter, Cllr Greenslade said he felt that the situation had been badly handled by the council, with no assurances that some sort of service could continue to be provided locally.
Despite the defeat, he said he was still hopeful that a local solution could be found.
He said: “The police can go in and remove an offender, which is fine, but the police will not be able to provide 24-hour protection to people facing domestic violence, which is why the refuge is such an important place to take people.”
Cllr Frank Biederman, who seconded Cllr Greenslade’s motion, said the decision not to support the refuge would cost other public services money.
“When someone has just been through the worst trauma of their life, without a refuge all we will be really able to do is put them in a hotel room,” he said.
“They need professionally trained staff to support them and signpost them to the right services.
“For the people I’ve spoken to the refuge has been turning point – the start of the rest of their lives.”