Council pledges financial help to domestic abuse refuge centres at risk of closure in Northamptonshire

Staff and volunteers at Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Service have issued a plea for more money to fund staff and their refuges
Staff and volunteers at Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Service have issued a plea for more money to fund staff and their refuges

Northampton Borough Council has pledged to lend ‘financial assistance’ to a domestic abuse service’s refuge centres that will see its government funding cut in March.

Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Service (NDAS) - formerly known as Women’s Aid - currently runs six refuge centres for people fleeing domestic abuse and five of them will close if alternative funding cannot be found when the government grants end next year. Partner organisation Eve is at risk of losing 13 beds as well.

A fundraising campaign has been launched by NDAS to raise £100,000 to keep the refuges open for 12 months, but Northampton Borough Council will also now step in to provide some financial help.

The amount the financial package would be was not discussed, but councillors from all parties backed the motion by Labour councillor Terrie Eales at last night’s full council meeting (Monday, December 10). It will see the additional funding given specifically to the refuge centres.

Councillor Eales said that losing the centres would mean the ‘responsibility of helping these victims out of abusive homes will fall onto NBC’.

NDAS had previously said that only five specialist spaces for women with substance misuse issues would remain without the necessary funding. The 21 spaces for adults and 34 spaces for their children would be lost. This would include three spaces in the male refuge which is only one of nine refuges solely for male victims in the UK.

Councillor Eales called upon the council to not only recognise NDAS for the service they have been providing to domestic abuse victims but to give some ‘much needed financial assistance’.

She added: “This council is already lacking a domestic abuse strategy, so let’s not ignore the cries for help from these services.”

Conservative cabinet member for housing, Councillor Stephen Hibbert, informed the chamber that his party would be supporting the motion.

He said: “We recognise that one of the major causes for homelessness is domestic abuse, and we want to help put together some kind of package.”

Deputy leader Phil Larratt added: “I can only express to the council the wonderful work these groups do. I have met victims of domestic abuse and I think it’s only right that we support these groups in their work.”

Northamptonshire failed in its bid to secure funding from the recent government MCHLG money allocated for refuge accommodation.

NDAS said it believed the snub may have been down to the county’s local authorities collectively failing to produce a domestic abuse strategy for Northamptonshire.

Labour leader Danielle Stone told the Guildhall: “Out of 61 authorities to apply for funding, we were the only ones not to get any. It does feel like we are being punished for the actions of the county council.”

After the motion was passed, Councillor Eales added: “I would like to put on record our thanks to NDAS for the valuable work they do and I’m really pleased we have got cross-party support on this.”