'Life-saving' charity says funding shortages could have 'catastrophic consequences'

Video report by ITV Granada Reports journalist Emma Sweeney.

A charity which "saved the life" of a mother and child who fled a emotionally abusive and controlling relationship says a shortage of funding could have "catastrophic consequences".

Cheshire Without Abuse has been a lifeline for families affected by domestic abuse for the last five decades, offering both victims and perpetrators a range of specialist support.

But in the past year, demand for services have increased by 38% and lack of funding is threatening its existence.

The charity says a funding shortage could have "catastrophic consequences." Credit: ITV News

Katie - not her real name - and her daughter were supported by the charity after they fled a life of emotional harm and coercive control.

"Those days before I fled domestic violence and before I was provided with a refuge, I felt that everyday was a fight to survive," Katie said.

"This charity literally saved my life. Everything was so professional, the way they handled the situation.

"They were constantly on the phone with me, they provided me with the therapy and they also provided me with a refuge."

Cheshire Without Abuse offer a 24-hour helpline, refuge, recovery programmes and behaviour change programmes for anyone who needs it.

Over the past 12 months the charity, which employs 60 staff members and 100 volunteers, helped almost 5,000 children and adults, totalling a cost of around £1 million.

It says it has already lost 25% of their funding in this financial year and could lose up to a further 40% between January and March 2024.

"They level of demand for our services nothing like I've ever known and I've been in this field for over 30 years," charity CEO, Saskia Lightburn-Ritchie said. "It's an epidemic.

"I'm genuinely fearful of what further cuts to our services will mean for those in need."

She continued to say: "We will see people who are dying by suicide. We'll see people who are seriously harmed. It's terrifying for us really."

The charity is now appealing to the public for help, in the hope of raising those vital funds and saving the lives of more people.

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