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Vital domestic violence service faces closures leaving children vulnerable

The award-winning charity Northumberland Domestic Abuse Services could be shut down by March after missing out on a vital funding

CHILDREN will be left vulnerable without counselling and support after a vital domestic abuse service faces closure.

Northumberland Domestic Abuse Services (NDAS), based in Hexham, could be shut down by March after missing out on a vital funding bid.

The award-winning charity, which is the only specialist service in Northumberland to offer support for children, receives no government funding.

A large amount of NDAS annual funding was provided by the Big Lottery Fund, but its bid this year was turned down.

Staff numbers have already been cut to save the organisation and it has applied for a number of government funding packages.

NDAS monitoring and development officer Heather Pringle said the other service in the area, the Domestic Abuse Support Service, gets council funding but is already at capacity.

“They are incredibly stretched and they’ve expressed extreme concern about what will happen if we close,” she added.

"When a family is referred to us, we work with the whole family, which means supporting the children, who are deeply affected by witnessing or experiencing domestic abuse. There just isn't anybody else offering that particular service for children.”

NDAS works to “break the cycle of abuse” by supporting families affected by domestic violence.

It also offers training on recognising signs of domestic abuse to other organisations and works with schools to help educate teenagers on healthy relationships.

One domestic abuse survivor said NDAS support had meant she heard her son’s side of the story for the first time.

“I’m so pleased this happened as I didn’t realise just how much everything that's happened has affected my children," she said.

“I've been given the tools to make changes and improve things for my children. Before I got the help from NDAS, the children’s needs weren't being met and I recognise that now.”

According to children’s charity NSPCC, 20 per cent of children in Britain have lived with an adult perpetrating domestic violence.

Over 60 per cent of children in households where domestic violence is happening are also directly harmed.

Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery has called for the government or the Lottery Fund to step in and help keep NDAS running.

The Wansbeck MP said: “Without Northumberland’s domestic abuse services in operation I've got serious concerns about the provision for vulnerable people across my constituency and the county as a whole.”

NDAS is campaigning through online fundraising to raise money and stay open.

Domestic violence has also been exacerbated by austerity. Yesterday, a group of women in London told the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, that they were bearing the brunt of government welfare cuts.

The women, some of whom had faced increased domestic abuse, urged Mr Alston to address British MPs on the effects of eight years of spending cuts on women.

It followed Housing Minister Heather Wheeler’s announcement that more than 25,000 domestic abuse survivors will be supported to rebuild their lives by a £22 million allocation for 63 projects across the country.

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