Many of the women we support live in domestic violence refuges in Bromley, which are run by Bromley Women’s Aid (BWA). But according to Constanze Sen, CEO of BWA, resources are so stretched that for every one woman who is given a place in refuge in Bromley, ten are turned away.
Although BWA receives statutory funding, this has been cut significantly over the last few years and is likely to be cut still further. In the three years we have been operational, we have seen BWA being forced to make refuge officers redundant, putting even more pressure on the remaining staff already doing a low paid job that is very demanding and often harrowing. And on a national level, the number of refuge providers went down from 149 to 112 between 2010 and 2014 due to lack of funding.
BWA has had become more and more reliant on charitable income, and the support of local organisations such as BBB.
Here are just some of the ways in which Bromley Women’s Aid has asked BBB to help over the last three years:
- by supplying formula to babies living in refuge. Most women moving into refuge are completely reliant on state benefits to survive, and pay their rent to BWA. There is often a delay between a family arriving in refuge and the mother’s benefits starting to come through – with even more delay if the abusive ex-partner has hidden her documentation to make escape difficult. Whilst the refuge officers help as much as they can, this can mean families living for several weeks without the resources to even buy milk for a baby;
- BWA is legally obliged to supply all new families coming into refuge with new bedding – but the cuts have meant they struggle to find the money to cover it. BBB is currently helping BWA by buying some new bedding for families living in refuge;
- to fund events such as cinema trips in the school holidays. For a total cost of around £20, thanks to the Empire Juniors film showings, BBB has arranged a morning out for several families with young children, who have really appreciated the change of scenery. We have also funded excursions such as a coach trip to Danson Park, which meant that the young children (and the exhausted mums!) were able to enjoy a day out in the park without a long journey on public transport before and after;
I am attaching the article based on Constanze Sen’s interview with the Daily Mail last November. It’s not light reading, but please do read it and share this post as widely as possible to help to #shinealight on the issues raised. Thank you.