Women's refuge faces funding fight

The leader of a woman's refuge has welcomed plans by council chiefs to fund domestic violence services, but says it still faces difficult times ahead.

Thursday, 16th March 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:01 am
The domestic violence petition hand over to Sunderland City Council at the start of this month. From left Housing support and community living Alan Caddick, cabinet member for health, housing and adult services Coun Graeme Miller, WWIN director Clare Phillipson and WWIN chairman Doris Maddison.

Wearside Women in Need (WWIN) is facing loss in funding of almost £600,000 when its contract comes to an end in July, sparking a campaign to support the future of the Washington charity.

Now the future of the services in the city is to be considered at Sunderland City Council’s next week.

Councillor Graeme Miller.

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The meeting will consider crisis refuge accommodation from July for the next two years and specialist domestic abuse outreach, along with funding for both which will exceed £250,000.

Clare Phillipson, director of WWIN, has welcomed the move, but says there are still tough times ahead for her organisation as it looks to raise the £1million it needs each year which still leaves it “stretched to the hilt.”

It will be among bidders to run the services.

She said: “We are delighted they have listened to the public, because it has not just been us they have listened to, and delighted the council has responded to their concerns.

Clare Phillipson of Wearside Women in Need.

“The victims of domestic violence have been writing in their droves.

“However, of course this doesn’t end the concern for our organisation and we are disappointed that they have decided not to renew our contract for two years, and now it will go out to competitive tender.

“The council could have legally extended our contract, services of a high standards and low cost, delivered by experts, secured for the city.

“This will see us go up against large national charities, who have teams of people who do nothing but write for tenders.

Supporters of Wearside Women in Need outside Sunderland Civic Centre earlier in March.

“We are still looking at other funding streams, as we have always done and we have always raised 50% of our costs.”

The council has said its efforts are in line with national expectations for Violence Against Women and Girls and its Housing First approach, which aims to help vulnerable people live independently.

Councillor Graeme Miller, cabinet members health, housing and adult services, said: “In developing Housing First, we are moving toward a more collaborative and joined-up approach, and working more closely with other local authorities across the Northumbria Police area.

“Preventing and tackling domestic abuse has always been a priority in Sunderland and that has never changed. We have to have a greater focus on prevention and stopping it from happening in the first place, and not just reacting to it.

Councillor Graeme Miller.

“This is what Cabinet is looking at with this report. Beginning new processes and contracts to prevent abuse and protect against it.”

The council says a range of organisations will work on issues and pool funds, with a partnership between councils in the region recently securing more than

£660,000 for the Northumbria Police area to help support domestic abuse victims.

The cabinet meets from 2pm at Sunderland Civic Centre on Wednesday, March 22.

Clare Phillipson of Wearside Women in Need.
Supporters of Wearside Women in Need outside Sunderland Civic Centre earlier in March.