Time running out for Doncaster Women’s Aid

Community event.
Community event.

Doncaster Women’s Aid could have to close its doors for the last time next week unless it can find fresh funding for its work.

But it has distanced itself from criticism over Doncaster Council over the current issue, after a campaign was set up by a third party.

Jane Thompson-Brierley, chief executive of Doncaster Women’s Aid, said: “Doncaster Women’s Aid would like to point out that we have not sanctioned the currently running campaign about cuts to our domestic abuse services. We know that a lot of organisations to date have experienced funding cuts but this is not the case for us, the local authority have been and continue to be very supportive of our recent funding difficulties.

“We can confirm that we are experiencing funding issues and if this cannot be resolved the organisation may have to close its doors on March 31 2016.

“We have been very fortunate to have been funded by the Big Lottery for the last three years. However, this funding is due to come to end in March/April 2016 and we have been unsuccessful in securing further funding to keep the service running. We hope that a solution can be found to enable our services to continue.”

Doncaster Council says it has more than doubled money for the service in recent years.

The council said a campaign to save the charity, which provides support to women suffering from domestic abuse, from closure had raised concerns that the authority has removed funding from the service.

The authority also said it has been said that lottery funding for Doncaster Women’s Aid was linked to council funding and that this link has been lost leading to the withdraw of lottery money.

But in a statement, the council added: “Both of these statements are incorrect. Funding for domestic abuse services in Doncaster through the Safer Stronger Doncaster Partnership has more than doubled since 2010/11 from £458,930 to more than a £1m.”

The council says it has also recently secured an additional £3m to tackle domestic abuse, and Women’s Aid was contracted by the council to run domestic abuse services until 2013 when a tendering process took place and a new provider was appointed.

The only other external contract that has been available was for the perpetrator programme which was awarded in 2014.

Women’s Aid did not tender for this contract.

Councillor Chris McGuinness, Doncaster Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “Doncaster Council commissions a wide range of help and support for victims of domestic abuse and rape across the borough and we have to deliver the most effective value-for-money services for residents.

“Women’s Aid is not our provider but we recognise the value of its work and are currently helping them to seek alternative funding.

“We are supportive of the third sector and have launched a grant scheme but the council funds services, not organisations.”