Domestic abuse charity questions council over funding axe

By Matthew Bates Thursday 14 August 2014 Updated: 14/08 10:42

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Buy photos » A wall of poems sits inside Coventry Haven to keep spirits high. 33.014.016.cov.jm1

A DOMESTIC violence charity has attacked the city council after its funding was axed in favour of a service to be used by men as well as women.

Coventry Haven's future is in doubt after the council pumped all of its funding - plus an extra £250,000 - into a new service set to launch next month.

It will also see money spent on trying to rehabilitate 150 attackers as well as supporting their victims.

The Haven has spent 45 years providing a refuge for women and head of services Elaine Yates said the move to include men had angered some of them.

"It is the focus on men that I think some of our women have found offensive," she told the Observer.

"I think there is a lack of understanding in how domestic abuse victims use the services.

"There seems to be a move away from saying it's a gender-based issue, but it still is. There are men who are abused, but generally it is about men exercising power over women."

She added: "Councils want this all-singing, all-dancing service and seem to be favouring this 'one stop shop' style of service.

"But it is a bit of an unknown in Coventry and there is still a need for a traditional-style refuge service."

Council leader Coun Ann Lucas has set out domestic abuse as a council priority after the case of tragic schoolboy Daniel Pelka.

And deputy Coun Phil Townshend said this week protecting children was at the core of everything the council did. He praised the Haven for its work but said he was disappointed at the criticism.

"The new programme is not only supported by us but also by West Midlands Police.

"It is a programme to challenge perpetrator behaviour and enable change and it is suitable for a whole range of abusers including young people and woman.

"It boils down to this - we need to change behaviour. You can prosecute and convict but it costs a lot of money and doesn't necessarily change behaviour.

"Historically we have quite rightly supported the consequences of domestic abuse. Now we want to challenge the problems leading up to domestic abuse as well."

However, one Haven service user said she would have reservations about using other services.

Eileen Thornton, 42, told us: "The biggest thing about domestic abuse is the embarrassment, the silence.

"So the great thing about the Haven is that it's discreet and in a perfect location. They find a solution to any problem, they believe you, they are there for you."

She added: "I haven't got a problem with men, we need healthy role models, but keep our place open first because we can help. Don't take it off the women and children and give to the men."

Eileen has set up a petition with the government in a last-ditch bid to continue funding.

Visit epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/66711 to sign it.

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