THE lack of affordable private rental housing and the absence of sufficient social housing have been cited as key reasons behind the fact that Clare Haven were unable to accommodate 148 women and 272 children in 2013.
Denise Dunne, services manager with Clare Haven, highlighted this in a week when an international effort to raise awareness of and curtail violence against women was launched locally in Kilkee and Ennis. Tuesday marked the start of the 16 Days of Action and Awareness of Violence against Women. This is a global campaign that runs until December 10, International Human Rights Day.
As part of this campaign, the Clare Local Area Network on Violence against Women launched Safe Ireland’s Man Up campaign in the de Valera Library in Ennis on Tuesday. Meanwhile, at an event in Kilkee, co-ordinated by the West Clare Family Resource Centre, balloons were released and a group of women met with Rachel Doyle from the National Women’s Council.
“One of the reasons we’ve had to turn women away is because women are staying longer in refuge because there aren’t move-on options for them. Housing has become a huge issue for women experiencing domestic violence. A lot of women, who co-own a home where there is domestic violence, if they leave, they are not entitled to go on a housing waiting list,” Ms Dunne explained.
“There are certain things that are stopping women from moving on. Here in Clare, housing is a problem. You have a lot of private rented housing stock out there but a lot of landlords are not accepting rent allowance. The levels of rent allowance were reduced over the last couple of years, which means that if a woman does need to rent privately, what she would be getting in rent allowance won’t make what the landlords are looking for,” she added.
In 2013, 99 women and 184 children were admitted to the refuge, while there were 123 court accompaniments and 969 outreach support sessions. Clare Haven received 289 helpline calls in 2013.
Speaking in Kilkee on Tuesday, Ms Doyle underlined the significance of the service provided by Clare Haven.
“Services like Clare Haven provide a life-saving line for women in this region. That is an absolutely crucial service that needs to be maintained. Their funding needs to be increased, the resources they have need to be enhanced and the supports that they can give to women need to be built on. From time to time, this is a life-and-death situation. They are providing a lifeline to women and that needs to be supported,” Ms Doyle said.