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Why dedicated funds for women and girls are lifesaving

19 June 2015

In the week we launch our £48.5 million Women and Girls initiative we hear from Polly Neate, CEO of Women’s Aid, about why dedicated funds for women and girls projects are vital, and literally lifesaving…

Polly-Neate

Women’s Aid CEO Polly Neate

As Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, the national domestic violence charity that has been operating for over 40 years, I know that dedicated funds for helping women and girls are vital. The women and girl’s initiative demonstrates that there is recognition of this – a step in the right direction.

Domestic violence is a gendered crime and a gendered issue; it affects women and girls far more than men, with men overwhelmingly the perpetrators. The often-quoted ‘1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are victims’ statistic is a myth. It is a dangerous one too, as it can lead to a rebalancing of resources away from responding to and supporting women and girls.

Across England, the Women’s Aid Federation relies on grants and donations to continue helping women and children fleeing domestic violence every year.

We help women rebuild broken lives, providing support in their own homes and in the community, specialist counselling and advice, services for children and services to help with parenting, and refuge for those who have to flee. We empower women and children to move forward, free from the dark legacy of domestic violence. We keep survivors at the heart of everything we do, and respond to what they define as their needs.

Women’s Aid also provides expert training and consultancy, both to specialist domestic violence agencies and professionals, and to other services and organisations, to ensure we are delivering the best possible service to women and their children. Our services are lifesaving – literally. A refuge, or the right support at the right time, can mean the difference between life and death for some women.

The loss of ring-fenced funding and poor commissioning practice by local authorities have seen resources for specialist domestic violence services and refuges slashed by local authorities, cutting the support women desperately need. Since 2010, 17% of domestic violence refuges have closed down in England. The pressure on those still delivering services is severe.

On average, two women a week in England and Wales are killed by a partner or ex-partner. The impact of the loss of specialist domestic violence services can be fatal. So, funds for domestic violence services, like this Big Lottery fund, can truly help save lives.

Our survivors are extraordinary women, testament to the strength of the human spirit. We need to ensure that all victims of domestic violence are given the opportunity to become survivors, to thrive in spite of the abuse they have suffered – and funds dedicated to women and girls will help us to do this.

To find out more about the work of Women’s Aid, visit www.womensaid.org.uk

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