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Long-term financial support given to women’s refuge

Publication date:

St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge (SAHWR) is to be given long-term financial support in recognition of the vital services it provides.

The organisation is being made a strategic partner of St Albans City and District Council, qualifying it for three-year-long funding.

The decision follows a major review of the Council’s £381,000 voluntary and community sector funds.

As part of the shake-up, SAHWR has been named as the Council’s fourth strategic partner.

Communities 1st, Citizens Advice and Hightown Housing Association already have that status. Hightown will use the grant next year to help finance its Mother and Baby Service as well as the Open Door homeless shelter.

Strategic partners are seen as being particularly important to the welfare of the District’s most vulnerable groups.

They are given significant grants for three years to help them plan for the future with confidence.

SAHWR and the other three partners will share a fund of £277,000 a year from next April.

A report on the review of the Council’s grant funds was given to a meeting of the Cabinet on Thursday 19 November.

Cabinet agreed to the proposal of making SAHWR a strategic partner and to some other structural changes.

The overall value of the funds is also being maintained next year despite the COVID-19 pandemic which has adversely impacted the Council’s finances.

Councillor Jacqui Taylor, Portfolio Holder for Housing, Inclusion and Protection, said after the meeting:

There is much evidence to show that levels of domestic abuse have risen across the country during the national lockdown and so has demand for women’s refuge services.

We are committed to giving as much support to our local women’s refuge as possible and we will now be providing it with significant financial help by making it one of strategic partners. This is a long-term relationship that will be of great benefit to some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

Our review of the community grants structure has come at a vital time with the COVID-19 epidemic increasing the workload of the voluntary sector that helps people suffering from isolation, loneliness and poor mental health.

“Despite intense pressure on our budget, we have maintained the funds’ value to help the vulnerable and foster community well-being. We’ve also made some changes to streamline the grants system and make it even more responsive to the needs of our community.

Our review’s principles were that the grants process should be transparent, equitable and flexible while offering value for money. I believe this new system does just that.

Among the other changes were a streamlining in the number of other community grants funds from three to more easily manageable two.

The community fund, with £91,000 to distribute a year, will support projects with grants of between £500 and £10,000.

It will help small organisations with their running costs as well as time-limited projects that promote the Council’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

A response fund, with £13,000 to award a year, is aimed at projects to meet emerging needs. It will also help community groups acquire small capital items like ramps to improve access.

Both new funds will continue with the Council’s objective of supporting initiatives that aid recovery from COVID-19.

Councillor contact:
Councillor Jacqui Taylor,
Portfolio Holder for Housing,
Inclusion and Protection
Tel: 07971 906343.

Contact for the media: 
John McJannet,
Principal Communications Officer
Tel: 01727 819533