Welsh Women’s Aid represents and supports a federation of 26 specialist domestic abuse services across Wales who provide support, advocacy and prevention services for women, children and families affected by domestic abuse. We currently face a situation where most of these vital lifesaving services have not had their funding confirmed beyond March 2016.
Last year in Wales, over 10,000 adult survivors and nearly 4,000 children and young people received refuge, community-based advocacy and/or support by domestic abuse services in Wales. Yet we also know that at least 284 women in Wales could not be accommodated by refuges because there was no space available when they needed help.
While struggling refuge services in England recently received an extra £13.4 million to keep them afloat, in Wales refuge services and the survivors that depend on them still face a postcode lottery when accessing funding and support. Many do not know if they can sustain their services at current levels, let alone whether they can grow and meet future demand for support.
Most services fear the worst, and expect cuts to be made to their already limited funding. They face the risk of being tendered out to the cheapest bidder – often large, non-specialist UK-wide organisations – or of being cut altogether. This is in spite of the European Directive on Victims’ Rights, which includes obligations for states to ensure the provision of specialist services for survivors of violence.
Refuges and community-based domestic abuse services are needed now more than ever; they provide a vital package of support for women and children living in fear as a result of coercive controlling abuse, sexual or physical violence at the hands of partners or family members.
That is why we launched Save Refuges, Save Lives, our campaign that calls for refuge funding in Wales to be protected by government and public authorities, accompanied by a sustainable funding model for refuge services so that all regions of Wales have capacity to meet demand.
We do not want to live in a country where women have nowhere to turn for help when they need it most.
Alice Moore is Campaigns and Communications Officer at Welsh Women's Aid.
Welsh Women’s Aid runs the Live Fear Free Helpline on behalf of Welsh Government. It can be contacted on: 0808 80 10 800. You can also follow them on Twitter @WelshWomensAid or like them on Facebook at Welsh Women’s Aid.