Exeter's women's refuge closes

Exeter's Women's refuge closes today after services supporting victims of domestic violence in Devon are taken over by a new supplier.

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Protests over women's refuge closure

A Mother's Day picnic was held in Exeter today in protest at the closure of the city's women's refuge.

Around 250 people met on Cathedral Green to show their support. They're calling for another refuge to open.

Services supporting victims of domestic violence in Devon are being taken over by a new supplier but there are no plans for another refuge.

Chris Collier is from Stop Abuse For Everyone:

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Devon County Council statement

This is part of a move from a large-scale institution to more personalised, safe individual accommodation for victims of domestic abuse.

Splitz, which provides domestic abuse support across the south west, was awarded the Council’s contract with complete backing from an independent panel comprising of the Council, NHS, police, a district council representative and a victim of domestic abuse.

This has been a change of contract - not due to cuts in council spending.

– DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL

Where needed, Splitz supports people to secure safe accommodation, working with Housing Authorities and private and social landlords to develop a range of accommodation options that suit each individual or family.

The Council remains committed to providing high quality services to protect individuals, families and communities.

– DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL

The Council contract has only ever been for support hours, not for the provision of the refuge building.

Where in the past shared accommodation in a refuge has worked well, better joined up working with the Police and Courts today makes it more possible to secure the departure of perpetrators from family homes, rather than survivors and their children having to move.

This is fairer to the survivor and children that have, in the past, been forced to live in refuges for up to a year while they wait to be rehoused.

– DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL

The Council says everyone currently living in the Exeter refuge has been offered alternative, personalised, secure accommodation and Splitz, as part of the contract, will offer all these people continued support.

Council on refuge: Move perpetrators, not the women

In the following statement, Devon County Council defends its decision to withdraw core funding for the Exeter Women's Refuge:

Better joined-up working with the police and courts today makes it more possible to secure the departure of perpetrators from family homes, rather than survivors and their children having to move.

– Devon County Council statement

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Exeter Women's Refuge to close as funding withdrawn

The Exeter Women's Refuge is to close down after Devon County Council withdrew core funding. Campaigners say it will lead to an increase in domestic violence against women. Nearly 2,000 people have joined a Facebook page demanding the centre be saved.

The refuge has accommodation for twelve women and their children. The Council says it is not the best way to protect abused women, and that they want to focus on removing perpetrators from the women's homes instead.