Wearside Women In Need, an organisation that helps women and children effected by domestic violence, held a “party and protest” today next to Sunderland Civic Centre after the council decided to end its contract with them.
The organisation run four refuges where women can come if they are fleeing domestic violence, a helpline and an outreach group which provides work throughout the city as well as a homeless drop in.
They offer support to women subject to physical, emotional, sexual violence, financial and psychological abuse. They work to help rebuild lives and to empower and progress peoples wellbeing.
Emma Emeny, who works for the organisation, said:
“We are having a big party to show Sunderland City Council how much everybody cares about Wearside Women In Need and the amazing work that they do to support vulnerable women and children.”
Clare Phillipson, Director of Wearside Women In Need, explained just how vital the service is and why the cuts would be so damaging: “Don’t cut domestic violence services. Women will die children will die, tens of thousands of people will be harmed. Our city will be the poorer for this.
“Despite the grimness of the situation, despite the fear and worry and anxiety that we are all suffering our refuges are full of laughter as well as tears.”
She also spoke about what it meant to have so much support and backing: “What we have got today is Wearside Women In Need coming to the civic centre, there are men hear, people who have never experienced domestic violence, there are survivors here. That is what we are, a complete representation of our city.
“It’s fantastic, its lovely. The car horns beeping, the police cars flashing their blue lights to offer support but for us this represents the city. Sunderland is a warm city. Sunderland have really taken us to their hearts.
“We only started our Facebook campaigning in November and we have nearly 4,500 supporters now. We are inundated with messages of support, its fantastic!”
The council have denied that they are cutting all funds for domestic violence services. Councillor Graeme Miller, Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Health, Housing and Adult Services, responded with:
“Nobody at the City Council has ever said that there would be an end to supporting the victims of domestic violence in Sunderland. There has been a lot of scaremongering on this matter and any suggestion that funding and all services are ceasing, is misleading, mischievous and, quite frankly, wrong.
“What is correct is that a range of partners and providers are now working more closely together and pooling funds. It is this partnership that has now secured more than £660,000 coming to the Northumbria Police area to help support the victims of domestic violence.
“This area partnership has now been highlighted as a best practice approach by DCLG and features on its web site.”
To contact Wearside Women In Need, ring their 24/7 domestic violence helpline on 0800 066 5555 or find them on Facebook.