Funds fear for victims of violence

Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse manager Trish Walsh

Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse manager Trish Walsh

First published in News Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

A DOMESTIC violence charity that protects hundreds of women at risk of attack says its future is in doubt over funding worries.

Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse celebrated its fifth birthday last Thursday but managers say money is drying up.

Last year, from April 2011 to March 2012, the independent Oxfordshire charity – which costs £150,000 a year to run– helped 304 victims. This included 149 victims who were new to the charity.

The service helps women who are deemed to be at risk of being seriously injured or even murdered through domestic abuse.

It provides a way out of abusive relationships, protection, and also guidance through the courts.

Manager Trish Walsh said: “We have had nearly 600 victims in the last five years. These are the most dangerous cases. These women are at risk from homicide.

“We are helping to stop these women and children from being killed or seriously injured.”

It has been funded in the past by donations from organisations including Oxfordshire County Council, district councils, Thames Valley Police, and the Ministry of Justice when those bodies have had money left over in their budgets. However, in these tough economic times usual sources of funding have had no extra money to donate.

In 2010/11 the service gathered £224,000 but in 2011/12 it took only £92,000.

Chairman Romy Briant, who was awarded an MBE for services to prevent domestic abuse in Oxfordshire in 2010, said the charity had been offered £40,000 funding for next year from the Home Office, but it was required to match the cash to qualify.

She also said they would need to raise another £70,000 throughout next year.

She said: “It is a homicide prevention service for people at high risk of abuse. It’s absolutely key. And we are also very good at what we do. We know we can make people safe. We can’t afford not to have this service.”

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She confirmed that if funding was not secured, they would have to turn victims away.

At the charity’s anniversary celebration at its Cowley Road home a domestic abuse victim told the Oxford Mail how the service had helped her over the last four years.

Mum-of-three Lou, who did not want to give her surname, said: “It’s been my life saver.”

The 33-year-old from North Oxford said the service had found a safe place for her and her children to live.

Retired Oxford Crown Court Judge Julian Hall also backed the charity.

He said: “It’s tremendously important. It seems to be so difficult for women to get out of the cycle and to have the courage to see the relationship is not good.”

For details visit reducingtherisk.org.uk or call the helpline 0800 7310055

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