A CHARITY that helps victims of domestic abuse is facing a financial crisis to keep its refuge service open.
Glossop-based High Peak Women’s Aid has until October to raise £60,000 to continue offering a refuge service. The organisation was unsuccessful in a bid for the funding that would have supported the work in the refuge and met its running costs for the next three to five years.
Another organisation has won the tender to take over this service and other services previously provided by High Peak Women’s Aid.
However, the charity wants to maintain its building and continue to offer a refuge service, and has already started on a new development to meet the needs of younger women, hoping to reach girls and young women at a much earlier stage in the cycle of abuse and reducing the number of domestic abuse incidents.
The refuge has been supported by the local community for more than 30 years and is a vital part of the range of services now offered.
Services manager Pam Whittle said that the funding body assessing the tender application had awarded High Peak Women’s Aid the highest points for quality of work. However, as a much smaller provider, the organisation could not match contenders on cost.
Now, Pam is calling on High Peak residents to save the charity by staging a fundraising event, sponsoring a room in the refuge or making a donation – no matter how small. The money raised will be used to run the refuge and offer a range of domestic abuse services.
To support High Peak Women’s Aid, call Pam on (01457) 856675 or visit www.highpeakwomensaid.org.uk, which offers easy-to-follow links for people willing to make a pledge.
Pam explained that, although the organisation leases the refuge from the Borough Council at a peppercorn rent, it still faces a major challenge to meet its running costs.
The refuge has offered a safe haven for up to 26 women and 35 children each year, and is always full to capacity. The charity works with each resident to build a personal development plan to promote confidence and self esteem, and to address issues including budgeting and debt management.
“We work with victims of domestic abuse and their families to help them move forward”, explained Pam.
Women’s Aid also runs an outreach service that helped 220 women and their children across the High Peak last year.
Services include counselling for service users, running a users’ group that teaches life skills such as managing a home and staying safe while out and about, and leading sessions in schools for girls and young women, looking at healthy relationships.
A former service user paid tribute: “I’ll be truly grateful for the people who support Women’s Aid. I feel they are walking angels who help save people and children’s lives. This is truly amazing. If you could see the light that’s been turned on in their soul, then you would know of the wonderful work you have done”.
Another client said: “A lot of women go it alone for so long. They think there’s no one out there to help them but there is. And you don’t realise what kind of help is available until you actually experience it. But it’s turned my life around, made me a different person – I’m getting there slowly but surely”.
Anthony McKeown, executive councillor for community services, said: “High Peak Women’s Aid has been providing a vital service for 30 years, in recognition of which the council has always been prepared to offer it accommodation at a very low rent.
“However, other financial pressures mean that the refuge is now at risk. That’s why I’m urging High Peak residents to dig deep, even though money is short, so Women’s Aid can continue rebuilding lives”, he urged.
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