Essex

Harlow women's refuge receives funding boost

A women's refuge charity in Essex is to continue to take in women with children thanks to extra funding.

Safer Places announced in November its five shelters in Harlow would be able to take in adults only due to reduced county council funding.

Two safety partnerships in Harlow and Epping Forest have given it £8,000 to allow the refuges to continue to cater for children until next spring.

The five shelters are currently home to 48 women and 70 children.

Chief executive Jan Dalrymple said the money would be used to pay for staff to look after "children's needs in particular" until the end of the current financial year.

She had previously warned a 24% cut in funding by Essex County Council meant ending this service.

Mrs Dalrymple said: "It's not something we would have wanted to do, but we would have had to start to limit the kids we were taking in."

'Short-term solution'

The two safety partnerships are made up of representatives from Harlow and Epping Forest councils, Essex County Council, primary care trusts, police and fire services.

Caroline Wiggins, safer communities manager at Epping Forest District Council, said the money had come from budgets set aside to deal with domestic abuse.

She said: "We've had to make it clear that a local bail-out is only a short-term solution and we'll all be working together to try and find a longer-term solution."

Essex County Council had previously said it sympathised with the problems Safer Places faced and was working to find a "satisfactory conclusion".

It 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."

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