Don't cut funding to Berkshire Women's Aid
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Reading Borough Council propose to cut funding to Berkshire Women's Aid resulting in a loss of 10 refuge places (from 25 to 15). Berkshire Women's Aid is a charity that helps victims of domestic abuse, including women, men and children.
About 80 per cent of domestic violence victims who use these refuge places come from outside the Reading area. This is due to a reciprocal agreement between women's associations across the country, which work together to get victims well away from their abusers and prevent them from being hunted down.
Chief executive of Berkshire Women's Aid, Liz Terry said: "I would like to encourage as many people as possible to to respond to (Reading Borough Council's) consultation. Domestic abuse is a very serious problem, we have seen an increase in referrals and police reports year on year. It is a societal problem that isn't going away any time soon."
The council say: "It is proposed that the refuge budget is reduced and this would result in the number of funded refuge places in Reading reducing to 15 (from 25), 4 of which would remain as a specialist provision for women from the Asian community (currently 8). The number of support hours for each of the households funded by Reading Borough Council would reduce to 6/7.5 hours a week per household (currently 10)."
Why I care
I grew up witnessing and suffering from domestic abuse. It affects everyone in the household. Cuts to these services hurt, literally. Victims need to know that when they ask for help, that it will be there. Statistically 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence over their lifetimes. 2 women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner (Office of National Statistics, 2015).
Austerity cuts impact the most vulnerable in our society. The victims of domestic abuse are traumatised. It is not easy for survivors to talk about or campaign against it. I appeal to your compassion and humanity to speak up for the voiceless and campaign for the vulnerable.
We are asking Reading Borough Council to not cut funding (a 22% reduction in spend) to Berkshire Women's Aid.
What you can do to help
Please respond to Reading Borough Council's online consultation which closes on the 10th February 2017: https://consult.reading.gov.uk/dachs/domestic-abuse-services/
Please support Berkshire Women's Aid charity with a financial contribution if you can afford it, for example £5 a month http://www.berkshirewomensaid.org.uk/bwa/funding-donating/
Get political. Domestic abuse charities should receive national funding from the government because this is a national problem. But austerity cuts have forced 17% of specialist women's refuges to close since 2010. More than 155 women a day are being turned away from refuges in the UK because there are not enough suitable places available.
Join or support a political party campaigning for change, for example The Women's Equality Party who I am branch leader for in Reading Reading branch Women's Equality Party. One of our key policies is to End Violence Against Women
Write to your M.P. / local councillors protesting these cuts - an easy way to do this is through the website Write To Them https://www.writetothem.com/
Find out more
Get Reading coverage of this on 19th January 2017 http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/reading-berkshire-news/reading-councillors-could-cut-funding-12461269
Domestic Violence - the facts (by charity Refuge) http://www.refuge.org.uk/get-help-now/what-is-domestic-violence/domestic-violence-the-facts/
Femicide Census (by charity Womens Aid) https://www.womensaid.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigning-and-influencing/femicide-census/
Counting Dead Women https://kareningalasmith.com/counting-dead-women
Sisters Uncut - taking direct action for domestic violence services
If you are experiencing domestic abuse
24-hour National Domestic Violence
Freephone Helpline (run by charities Refuge and Womens Aid)
0808 2000 247
Contact Berkshire Women's Aid - helpline 0118 950 4003
Local counselling services
Trust House Reading http://trusthousereading.org/
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