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‘Losing women’s refuge would have high cost’

Sunday, April 3, 2016 - 8:00

THE social and financial costs of closing a vital service for families fleeing domestic violence would be immeasurable, it has been warned.
As the IW Council stands on the brink of bankruptcy, the Isle of Wight Women’s Refuge is one of many services facing an uncertain future without extra government funding.
Chief executive of the refuge and outreach service, Fiona Gwinnett, has backed the Fight for the Wight petition, calling for more funding for the Island’s public services and urged others to join the campaign.
"The council has really championed the refuge and done everything it can to protect our funding. It is very aware if there is no refuge, there will be a resulting impact on homelessness and social services, and there are huge cost implications to that," she said.
"The future looks grim and the refuge is not a statutory service — we may have to take the hit with other services.
"I do not envy the council’s position. It would be all too easy for them, for everyone, to throw their hands up. But everyone must pull together and fight, we all have a responsibility."
The refuge provides accommodation for six women and their children and 22 families stayed there last year,
The outreach service supports around 180 men and women at any one time. The £280,000 annual cost of running the service is met by a £120,000 council contribution, plus government and charitable funding.
Fiona said: "The refuge is a place of last resort for women who are desperate.
"Many people are fortunate enough to never need the refuge but it’s an absolutely vital service for people who have no other option."
The council’s executive member for public health, Cllr Phil Jordan, said: "The refuge is absolutely vital, not just for the women who depend on it, but also financially. Without it, we would have to take more children into care at an annual cost of £50,000 per child.
"It’s becoming harder for the refuge to operate with the current level of funding, and without extra money it will close. Should that happen, the costs, personal, social and financial, would be immeasurable."

Reporter: [email protected]

 


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