Essex

Harlow women's refuge gets extra funding to care for children

A women's refuge charity in Essex has said extra money from the county council will enable it to continue to care for children of abused mothers.

Safer Places, which runs five shelters in Harlow, said it had been "weeks away" from only being able to take in adults due to reduced council funding.

A new arrangement with the authority means it will continue to be able to take in their children as well.

The charity has room for about 50 women and 140 children in the town.

Chief executive Jan Dalrymple had previously warned a cut in funding would mean it could only pay to look after adults.

"It's absolutely superb news. I can't tell you what a difference it will make," she said.

'Complicated issue'

"It's imperative you've got the services for the children, because when the mum's being abused the child is almost always aware of it.

"In about 75% of cases, if the perpetrator is being violent with the women, they are also being violent with the children."

Conservative councillor Ann Naylor said a major review into funding for refuges was under way.

She said previously they had been part of adult social care budgets, which meant funding for the children in refuges had "fallen through the cracks".

"It's a complicated issue and it just wasn't really recognised by the children's services as part of something they would fund," she said.

"It is now being incorporated into part of the community projects pilot, which will look across children's and adults funding.

"So I'm optimistic money will be found for next year and the years after."

Mrs Naylor admitted the money given to the refuges would impact on other services.

"There is just not sufficient money in the social care budget at the moment to support everything to the level with which we would like," she said.

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