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Lack of funding means domestic violence refuge lies unused

Four self-contained apartments, meant to be used by families seeking refuge from domestic violence, cannot be utilised because of lack of funding.

Inside the new building constructed for Teach Tearmainn
Inside the new building constructed for Teach Tearmainn
Image: Jacinta Carey

ACCOMMODATION FOR FAMILIES affected by domestic violence and abuse in Kildare has not opened because of lack of funding.

Jacinta Carey of domestic violence support service Teach Tearmainn in Newbridge told TheJournal.ie that the building, which is made up of four self-contained apartments for people who need refuge, needs €413,000 a year in funding to stay open. The HSE can provide the service with €100,000.

It was completed last year but so far it has not obtained the necessary funding and has not opened.

The accomodation is the result of many years of fundraising. “We first were approached by the HSE in 1998 and asked to take on the project,” explained Carey, noting that any fundraising that Teach Tearmainn has done up to now has been towards the building of the refuge.

She stated that in order to run the service they cannot be dependent on small amounts of funding. “You can’t say to staff, I might be able to pay you a salary next week.”

Carey explained that women’s refuges are more than about putting a roof over people’s heads – “you’re talking about people coming into you who can be very traumatised and very vulnerable” and “a level of support is needed other than a safe place”.

The board of Teach Tearmainn are meeting next week so no final decision has been taken, “however they have to be realistic”, said Carey.

And if they know from day one that the service isn’t sustainable then you have to quesion the integrity of opening something up. It is a private company; they are bound by company law rules. All of that has to be taken into account.

Carey said the situation “is not an easy place to be” and is not a failure of Teach Tearmainn.

Domestic violence and women who experienced domestic violence have been silenced long enough, and part of that silencing is lack of services.

Since Teach Tearmainn took ownership of the building, 20 women, with a total of 47 children, have approached the service for refuge.

We try and get refuge somewhere else for them. It creates a problem if they have a job and have to leave county. More often than not they have to leave their job. With children there can be problems with schooling.

Teach Tearmainn is the only dedicated domestic violence service in Kildare. Carey said of the women who could not be housed there, “I would say it is at least a possibility that some of them were forced back into a violent relationship”.

“People say, why doesn’t she just leave? But the barriers that are put in her way… are insurmountable,” said Carey. Last year, Teach Tearmainn supported 207 individuals, received 1500 calls to its helpline and 59 requests for refuge.

I would always make the point that is not a true figure because we know that other services and other women bypass us because they know we don’t have the accommodation.

In September, Teach Tearmainn had to close its dedicated counselling service due to lack of funding. However, it still offers support sessions, court accompaniment service and an outreach service.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the HSE said:

The HSE provide grant aid to Teach Tearmainn for their information and support service. The grant payable reduced in 2011 as a result of the extreme financial challenges faced by the HSE. Teach Tearmainn requested additional funding from the HSE to provide refuge accommodation.

It said it is currently engaged with the service around funding in 2012 and that it has prioritised additional funding of €100,000 in response to the above request.The HSE is currently undertaking a national and regional review of Domestic, Sexual and Gendered based Violent Services.
The Teach Tearmainn helpline is 045 438461 and its email address is jcarey@teachtearmainn.ie.

Lack of funding means domestic violence refuge lies unused
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