Women's Aid, the UK's national domestic violence charity, has today called for urgent government action to safeguard the future of domestic abuse refuges across the country.
To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, , Women's Aid has released new statistics highlighting that demand for refuge space in the UK far outstrips supply. On just one day this year, the charity found that 94 women and 90 children were turned away from refuge.
The charity warns that the government's proposed reforms to supported housing could reduce funding for domestic abuse refuges, preventing them from helping more women and children who are at risk.
"The Government’s new funding model for refuges could be the breaking point for these life-saving services which have already been operating for far too long on short-term, shoestring budgets," the charity's Chief Executive Katie Ghose said. "These proposed reforms mean that many refuges will be faced with the awful reality of either turning more women and children away or closing their doors forever. Without a safe place to escape to, more women and children will be put at risk."
Ghose advised: "Only by creating a long-term and sustainable funding model for a national network of refuges can we ensure that every woman and child can safely escape domestic abuse."
Writing in The Independent today, Labour MP Dawn Butler has called on the government to scrap its proposed reforms to supported housing in order to safeguard the future of the UK's domestic abuse refuges.
"Women’s refuges are a lifeline, access to which no woman should be denied. But the Government’s proposed supported housing funding reforms threaten the very existence of women’s refuges," she wrote. "I urge the Government to change course and develop a sustainable form of funding for women’s refuge services, to ensure that no more women and children are put at risk. We owe it to women and girls to get this right."