Weymouth's women's refuge plan moves forward

Erin Pizzey The campaign has been back by Erin Pizzey, founder of the Refuge charity

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Campaigners fighting to reopen a women's refuge in Dorset are hoping to win an extension to complete drawing-up their plan for a half-way house.

The refuge in Weymouth, which provided emergency shelter for more than 1,000 women and their children, shut in 2009.

Landowner Weymouth council, which thinks the site may be worth up to £400,000 if developed, has given them until 4 January to produce a bid.

But campaigner Gill Taylor said: "We need until March for the costings."

The member of The Friends of the Weymouth Refuge told BBC News: "We're hoping the council will give us an extension so we can organise the funding for support worker costs."

Male victims

The proposal the group has designed would see the property converted into four flats for women who have already been in a refuge and "do not require a high level of support" but are not ready to live independently.

The victims of domestic violence would hail from both West and North Dorset.

It is hoped Magna Housing Association will purchase and convert the building - formally owned by Stonham Housing Association - and another association will provide the service and support staff.

Ms Taylor added: "One of the units will be a 'floating' one that can be used by male victims of domestic violence because there are no provisions for men in the Dorset County Council area."

The campaign has been supported by Erin Pizzey, who started the first women's refuge and founded the charity Refuge.

The refuge was closed because the county council, which funded the service, concluded that a mobile outreach team to help both male and female victims of domestic abuse could replace the centre's work.

The Dorset Supporting People Commissioning Group, which is made up of agencies across the county, said research had shown an outreach team was "more effective" overall.

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