Sunderland may become the first major UK city without any domestic violence refuges for women.
Local charity Wearside Women in Need have been told by Sunderland council they will have their funding cut. The charity warns it won’t be able to continue running their four refuges, accommodating 173 women and 107 children. They also provide the only specialised service in the north east for black women and can provide accommodation for women with severe disabilities.
Sunderland council has recently started a consultation with local residents ahead of setting plans for their budget. But the council says it must cut £74 million by 2020, and despite claiming no decisions have been made yet, has told Wearside Women in Need that the £568,000 currently provided will end by June 2017.
Local campaigners warn that women will be left hoping that provision in neighbouring local authorities can help them. But a 2015 survey by Women’s Aid found that UK refuges are forced to turn away around two thirds of referrals because of lack of space and funding.