Could North Somerset Council funding cuts prove fatal for domestic abuse charity?
A CHARITY which has helped thousands of women suffering with domestic violence could fold if its funding is slashed because of council cuts.
North Somerset Against Domestic Abuse (NADA) has been running for the last 11 years and helps an average of 60 women a month who are suffering with a violent partner.
But the service, which employs three full-time staff and a range of part-time staff, has been told the £120,000 grant it receives from North Somerset Council is under threat as the authority battles to save millions from its budgets.
The cash-strapped authority is facing making cuts of around £47 million over the next four years – including up to £17.5 million in the first year alone.
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Directors of each department have been asked to look at their spending and see where cuts can be made.
It is likely funding to a number of organisations – including NADA – may have to be reduced or cut completely as the authority battles to balance its books. The current funding for NADA runs out at the end of March, leaving workers unsure whether the service will be able to continue.
NADA manager Juley Howard said: "In the last 10 years more than 3,000 women and several thousand children have successful escaped domestic violence thanks to the help of NADA.
"But government cuts mean that this vital service could now be taken away, leaving hundreds of women and children vulnerable, isolated and with no-one to turn to.
"Yet domestic abuse is a crime – a crime which wrecks lives. Not just in the obvious ways like physical injury but also in the subtler forms such as psychological, emotional and financial abuse.
"It destroys the lives of generations of women, men and children across all backgrounds – regardless of age, class, race and income.
"We do not know when a decision will be made about our funding, or even how much we receive, which has left us all in limbo. If we shut down it will just result in more calls from victims to the police and social services.
"I am worried about what will happen to people if NADA loses its funding."
NADA helps women from all walks of life, from those below the breadline, women with uncertain immigration status, ordinary mums and professional women.
It helps with housing, sorting out benefits and helping women access refuges where they can find shelter.
NADA's team of staff also organise trips out as well as running courses to help people stay safe at home and supporting domestic violence victims through court cases.
The service is funded entirely by North Somerset Council, although it does receive donations from charitable groups.
Mrs Howard said: "The reality is that domestic abuse is not going to go away – but the ability to provide help and a means of escape clearly is.
"I just hope that North Somerset Council will manage to find a way round this – or else I dread to think what will happen to the many people who need our help both now and in the future."
Council spokesman Nick Yates said: "Until the budget is set we do not know where any savings will be made or where the axe will fall.
"This is all part of the budget-setting process which is happening now and the final budget will be set at the full council meeting at the end of February."