Temporary reprieve for Northamptonshire women’s refuges

Domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse.

Support for women’s refuges in Northamptonshire is to continue until at least September.

Campaigners are fighting a decision by the county council to tender out domestic violence services, saying there will not be enough money in the tender to provide refuges – and they will end up closing.

But Northamptonshire County Council now says the support will continue until September 30.

Previously, Northamptonshire Women’s Aid had been told contracts would not be extended beyond June.

Richard Garvie, Labour Party prospective Parliamentary candidate for Wellingborough and Rushden, said: “While I welcome this decision to extend the contract for the refuges until the end of September, this still isn’t good enough.

“Refuges provide support for the most vulnerable people in our community, and I will continue to work with councillors from all political backgrounds, campaigners and members of the public to ensure that we get the best outcome for those who rely on these vital services.

“These proposed cuts will have a devastating effect on not just women and children in Wellingborough & East Northamptonshire, but also to the men and families that are supported by women’s aid throughout the county who are also subjected to incidences of domestic violence and abuse.

“The whole community really ought to be backing this campaign, and I urge elected representatives from all political parties to make their feelings known to the county council. This decision just doesn’t have any logic.”

Shadow Home Secretary and Labour politician Yvette Cooper had previously added her backing to the campaign.

Mrs Cooper said it was ‘deeply worrying’ that funds could be withdrawn from refuges and called on people to sign a petition, which has already attracted 1,000 signatures, calling for a rethink.

She added: “Domestic violence refuges provide an essential lifeline to victims of abuse and it would be deeply concerning if Northamptonshire County Council made the decision to remove all the funding for so many vital specialist services.”

“The petition submitted to the council today shows the depth of public support for the important work undertaken by the refuges across the county.

“The Home Secretary Theresa May and the County Council should be doing everything possible to keep women safe.”

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said following funding changes, the authority was working with providers to develop the way services are delivered.

He added: “We want better links between all the different organisations that support victims of domestic abuse and a greater range of services that match the needs of the woman, man or family in need of support.

“This will ultimately mean more money being spent on these services in a better way.”

The petition against the cuts can be found at www.sallykeeble.org.uk/womens_aid_petition.