Harlow women's refuge may close due to lack of funding

The chief executive of a women's refuge service in Essex has warned it may have to close one of its shelters.

Safer Places, which runs five refuges in Harlow, said it only received funding from Essex County Council to take in women but not their children.

It said one of its buildings, which can home 19 adults and 35 children, could close as it was no longer sustainable.

The county council said it sympathised with the problems and was working to find a "satisfactory conclusion".

The charity's chief executive, Jan Dalrymple, said: "It's a dreadful situation to be in. We already turn away 50% of women who ring up for a refuge place and we don't know where they will go.

"But at the end of the day we have to run a sustainable service and we're very much on the brink."

"This refuge is likely to be unsustainable and my trustees are going to discuss this in November because of the funding situation."

'Life back'

The charity has room for about 50 women and 140 children affected by domestic abuse across Harlow.

It also operates refuges in Hertfordshire and Southend, where it does get funding for children.

One of the women at the refuge under threat of closure said she had no choice but to take her child to the shelter with her.

She said: "My daughter had seen too much [abuse], so I had to bring her out of it.

"I think I would have put up with it but after a while it was too much and my child shouldn't see things like that."

Another added: "[Being here] you're free, you've got your life back, you're safe."

In a statement, Essex County Council said: "The grant funding to refuges was previously ring-fenced and bound by specific grant conditions specifying it could only be spent on vulnerable adults, not children.

"More recently, the ring fence was removed to allow for local decision making.

"We have been approached for extra funding and are engaged in discussions with Safer Places."

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