Financial future of St Albans charity is uncertain

Soroptimist International St Albans fundraise for the refuge and recently raised £2,000 for them thr

Soroptimist International St Albans fundraise for the refuge and recently raised £2,000 for them through coffee mornings and a book stall. - Credit: Archant

The future of a charity which offers refuge to victims of domestic violence looks uncertain due to a potential change in funding.

St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge could face service cuts as Herts County Council intend to put the services for which they pay out to tender in October 2017.

The council provides a third of funding for the charity and currently finances housing-related support staff based in the refuge in St Albans.

HCC believe that tendering the contract for the support they provide will give them “the best value from the most effective service possible”.

They remained tight-lipped about who had expressed interest but had expected to hear from “other providers and interested parties who do not currently have contracts with health and community services”.

Soroptimist International St Albans and district, which fundraises for the charity, is concerned about its financial future.

Member Jane Slatter said: “The council are now going out to tender so they don’t know where they [the refuge] are going to end up.

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“HCC provide a third of the money for the refuge and they may not be eligible for that any more if another company takes over.

Jane feared that it would impact the refuge’s outreach programmes which provided the women with extra support.

County cabinet member for community safety, Richard Thake, commented: “Hertfordshire County Council and its partners are committed to providing a safe refuge for victims and their children who are fleeing from, or are at risk of domestic violence.

“We currently commission the provision of care from six individual refuge providers which offer a range of accommodation, care and support to the victims of abuse and their children.

“These services are currently being reviewed with the intention of tendering the services for October 2017.”

The council believe that tendering is a “transparent way” of securing the best value from its commissioning processes.

Cllr Thake added: “We know that preventing abuse from happening in the first place, and ensuring that those who do experience abuse can have their needs safely met, is a multi-agency responsibility.”

The St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge did not comment.