Staffordshire domestic violence refuge 'under threat'

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A Staffordshire domestic violence refuge could close due to council funding cuts, a charity has warned.

Staffordshire Women's Aid will lose almost £76,000 a year from October, some 20% of its funding.

Its chief executive Dickie James said it could put its one refuge at risk and affect two others in the county run by other charities.

Staffordshire County Council said it was working with charities to find other funding options.

Ms James said the cuts come at a time of increased demand and with the charity experiencing a waiting list for its services for the first time in its history, which she described as "very worrying".

'Reduce violence'

She said preventative work the charity carries out in schools and with other groups might also have to be scaled back.

"That's incredibly important because it has the potential to reduce domestic violence in future," Ms James said.

Council funding accounts for more than 60% of its budget, with further money coming from donations and other grants.

Pathway Project, which runs two refuges in the county, said it was facing council cuts of more than £60,000 (about 20% of its funding) and while refuges would remain open, it would be reducing the number of staff based in them.

Its chief executive Kathy Coe said it was often very difficult to assess the danger people were in.

"People often minimise what is happening to them. Nobody wants to face contemplating serious injury or death," she said.

Arch, which provides domestic abuse services in Newcastle-under-Lyme and the Staffordshire Moorlands, said council cuts of £72,000 meant it would be scaling back its community support services.

It said the council decision meat the local community would "pay a much higher price in the long-run".

Alan White, Staffordshire County Council's cabinet member for care, said the authority was helping organisations source other funding.

He claimed the council would "still be providing significant funding to domestic violence groups" as well as working with the police to address the issue.

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