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Live webchat with Women's Aid about the impact of cuts on vulnerable women and children, Thursday 13 December, 1.30pm

(70 Posts)
AlexMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 11-Dec-12 13:11:27


This year, we're going to be featuring the 'Saving Survivors' Services' campaign from Women's Aid over the Christmas period.

As many of you will know, Women's Aid is a national domestic violence charity, which helps up to 250,000 women and children every year, and supports over 500 domestic and sexual violence services across the country.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the impact cuts and welfare reform will have on vulnerable women and children.

A recent survey of their member organisations revealed that 1 in 5 is facing financial difficulties that will result in the reduction or loss of local refuge services.

Their Policy and Services manager, Deborah McIlveen, will be answering general questions on domestic violence, on Women?s Aid work in protecting women and children, what funding cuts mean for services, and how Mumsnet members can help to protect them.

So please join us here on Thursday 13th Dec at 1.30pm for the chat. If you can't make it then, as ever, please post up your advance questions here.


YourHandInMyHand Thu 13-Dec-12 11:04:13

I had support from WA, was offered a place in their refuge, had emotional support and help filling in forms. It made things SO much easier during an extremely scary time. thanks

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 12:01:32


NormaStanleyFletcher Thu 13-Dec-12 12:50:25

Is there any campaign we can join to try and ringfence the funding for dv services? I am lucky to have never experienced dc, but would happily join in.

AbigailAdams Thu 13-Dec-12 12:55:24

Sorry I have another question!

Given this recent report from EVAW, Equality Now and Object do you think the media downplay of violence against women & children directly leads to problems with funding either from a local (more individual) level or from a state level?

DecktheHallswithTroughsofBolly Thu 13-Dec-12 13:24:57

I'm at work but as I work for the police supporting victims of DV and other crimes through the court process I'm justifying my presence as work related !!!

We are struggling to get victims referred for counselling, both pre trial and post trial. Our IDVA service has been cut from 3 to 1 person for the whole county; she covers both magistrates and crown court and also covers domestic sexual abuse. Our local refuges are threatened with closure. It is a bad, bad time for women victims. Places on IDAP courses are becoming few and far between as there are simply no teachers to take them (or funding). Court cases have to be abandoned because of a lack of support for victims leading them to return to the offender and retract their support. This is costing millions of pounds in wasted resources, quite apart from failing to help women, children and pets escape abuse.

How do you think that we, as members of the public and criminal justice professionals, can get the Government to take violence against women seriously ?

AlexMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 13-Dec-12 13:27:19

Sorry everyone Deborah is slightly delayed, but should be with us shortly!

DecktheHallswithTroughsofBolly Thu 13-Dec-12 13:28:19

- how much does it cost to run a refuge for a year ?
- what is the current shortfall of places to women seeking placements
- what do you think of the public consultation on new sentencing guidelines for sexual offences ? Would you support minimum tariffs ?

QueenofWhatever Thu 13-Dec-12 13:36:36

I am very grateful to Women's Aid (as well as the police and two GPs - other doctors were useless) who helped me and my daughter get away from my nasty piece of work ex. I was also in the pilot IRIS scheme which was excellent.

My questions is: 'do you think the change from domestic abuse to domestic violence puts off those people who have not been physically hurt but experience emotional, sexual, financial abuse?'

Offred Thu 13-Dec-12 13:40:29

We've been today to drop off some toys for our local WA for their children to have Christmas presents at their Christmas grotto, another thing threatened by cuts. What has struck me is that because of the stigmas and difficulties discussing violence against women and children it is very difficult to get people talking and helping. We had hoped other parents at school would have liked to donate too but this was not met with enthusiasm because of WA being for domestic violence and people not wanting their children to be introduced to this concept. It meant that it was only us who did it and although my daughter was praised for her kindness (it was her idea to give toys mine to give to WA) in school they would only mention that the toys were for "a charity". It really frightens me that actually WA is going to find it much much harder than more popular charities to make up funding cuts because of these issues, I'd like to know whether this is happening more widely than my small anecdote and if so are there things we can do to help?

AlexMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 13-Dec-12 13:48:57

Sorry for the delay and thanks for your patience, we are currently unable to contact Deborah but are assured she is on her way. I'm sure she will be here soon...

AlexMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 13-Dec-12 14:03:29

Deborah will be here any moment, she's had a bad luck on the underground which I'm sure many of us can sympathise with. Thanks again for your patience

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:09:50

Hello I'm here, so sorry I'm late- but great to be here.

Whistlingwaves Thu 13-Dec-12 14:12:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:13:41


Sorry, that should read:

How do you keep the locations of refuges a secret?

Confidentiality is critical for domestic violence survivors, survivors prefer confidentiality in order to feel comfortable about telling somebody whats happening to them. It os vital that the location of refuge services is kept secret for the saftey of adult and child survivors. Refuge services generally use a PO Box address or an address in a different location. Safety and security are a top priority for refuge service and refuge residents agree not to tell anybody the address of the refuge service as part of their license agreement..

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:18:46


I think if funding comes through local government - facing a cut of 28% across the board thanks to Eric Pickles - then that will mean bleak days ahead.

The 28% cut has already been passed on to local authorities as part of the comprehensive spending review. However, some local authorities have cut their services by more than 28%. Bleak days are ahead not just because of cuts to local authority funding but also because many survivors in refuge services claim benefits and the government welfare reform proposals particularly the introduction of universal credit, the housing benefit cap and local housing allowances may well prevent victims leaving their home and seeking refuge.

Women won't be able to afford refuge rents and without the income from rents refuge services won't be able to maintain their service. Because the rent is quite a significant part of their income

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:20:31


Hi Deborah. Thanks very much for coming. I also think that Women's Aid performs such an important job.

My question is do you know how many women who need help.get turned away due to lack of funding/space in refuges? And a follow-on question of how on earth do you deal with these women who can't be housed? It must be heart-breaking.

I'm interested in how you can donate and what to donate.

A Women's Aid snapshot survey conducted earlier this year showed that on one day in June 320 women were turned away because of lack of space.

NormaStanleyFletcher Thu 13-Dec-12 14:22:05

320 in one day shock

That is awful.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:22:47


And a follow-on question of how on earth do you deal with these women who can't be housed? It must be heart-breaking.

Refuge services support women until they are housed, however, some women and children can wait up to two years to get a home allocated and this sadly blocks up spaces. Services can't leave a woman on the street

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:24:19


Eric Pickles has a questionable past no?

I don't know about it, but please do send on any info about this!

AbigailAdams Thu 13-Dec-12 14:27:02

320 in one day! Wow the problem is immense isn't it. Good to know that they continue to receive support though.

NormaStanleyFletcher Thu 13-Dec-12 14:27:30

What happens to those 320 who had to be turned away?

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:28:20


Hi Deborah,

I am concerned about the planned charges for the CSA, even for domestic abuse victims. My XP has kept out of our way and paid every month without fail via the CSA but when they increase his monthly payment he may well flare up again.

Did you have any involvement in the campaign against CSA charges, and if so are you still involved? Although sadly I think the government are hell bent on going through with it sad.

Yes Women's Aid is very concerned about the planned charges. Women's Aid is working with the Department of Work and Pensions working group, that is looking at the implementation of the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission (CMEC) to secure the best conditions for domestic violence survivors seeking maintenance from ex partners/spouses who are the fathers of their children.

We agree that the charges are inappropriate and unless this situation changes more children will be left to grow up in poverty.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:31:33


Hello Deborah,

My question is whether you think this initiative is a practical and worthwhile one? I type, tentatively...! do you think providing something which is probably viewed as a luxury item is useful or could it perhaps detract from the more basic, immediate needs that you have to address? Could it be better channelled elsewhere / with a different focus, or do you think books are a useful addition to have available to the mothers, babies and children you support?

Yes! I think it's a fantastic idea. Women and children in refuges need books as we all do, but will have far less access.

Offred Thu 13-Dec-12 14:38:19

I wanted to add about child maintenance that the issue isn't simply poverty but ongoing abuse. The qualifying domestic abuse definition discounts the vast majority of abuse victims. I'm left in the position of having been very badly sexually abused but never reported, the children and I still being emotionally abused, which is not something which can be reported, and so anything which includes help for women suffering domestic violence or who have children with a man who has/is abusing them still whether they are with them or not does not apply to me. The charges for CSA will kick start more abuse for me and my children, I am apoplectic to be told they are a punishment for my inability to behave reasonably when that is all I have done, the problem is I'm dealing with an abuser that I haven't/can't report.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:38:30


I would like to know if you are seeing a rise in victims of EA

I was a victim of EA and did not feel able to approach a refuge because I felt there were women suffering physical violence there much worse than me and also because I was afraid of the authorities being called.

I know my other question has been asked but I would also like to know how to help on a practical level.

There are very few victims (I don't think I've come across any actually) who have not experienced emotional abuse. Domestic violence is about power and control and perpetrators that use physical abuse generally use it to back up their other controlling behaviours. Similarly with threats of violence.

Women's Aid services, wether refuge or outreach, prioritise provision of support to address the EA that perpetrators use. Women in refuge services find that being together with one another and sharing their experiences of EA contributes to their recovery process.

In regard to authorities - Women's Aid services are completely independent from any authorities and recognise that confidentiality is critical to women escaping DV

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