Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) domestic violence refuges, outreach and advice services funding cuts crisis

Briefing Meeting And Reception
February 6th 2008 from 6.30pm – 8.30pm
MacMillan Room, Portcullis House

Funding cuts and policy changes are leading to a loss of expertise and services dedicated to the needs of women and children from BAMER communities and endangering the lives of women and children

Imkaan, is a small organisation which provides advocacy, training and support to the National Network of BAMER women’s refuges. Imkaan and our members are critically concerned that despite a strong commitment from the Government in seeking to eradicate domestic violence through reforms to the Criminal Justice System and provisions within the Domestic Violence Act the Government has overlooked the needs of BAMER women and children who require access to specific housing and support services. These services are essential in helping and supporting women to leave situations of violence and abuse and are often present a key support and safety mechanism prior to women seeking any remedies through the CJS.

Introduced in April 2003, Supporting People (SP) has ‘decommissioned’ many BAMER women’s refuges built up by grassroots feminists with enormous effort over the last thirty years, slashing the funds of others and not supporting specialist outreach services which are lifelines for the many women and children trapped and often literally prevented from going out of their homes.

This is happening against a background of cuts in legal aid, reductions in social housing, increasing inequality and an acute shortage of services for BAMER women facing domestic violence – for example, there is only 1 specialist refuge in East England where according to the 2001 Census the BAMER population is 4.88% of the total. Recent research by the Women’s National Commission, End Violence Against Women campaign, 2007 highlights that less than 1 in 10 local authorities currently has specialist BAMER for women facing familial and or partner violence and it is this limited but in demand provision that is under threat.

We are now seeing an increasing number of specialist services who are being given no option but to merge with generic bodies and as a consequence services specific to the needs of BAMER women and children are being reduced. Ironically, community organisations which serve established community needs are being destroyed in the name of ‘community cohesion’. At the same time ‘mainstreaming’ – the new buzz word – means that specialist areas are being lost and agencies without skilled staff or expertise are being given the impossible task of meeting the very different needs of a large number of diverse groups. The effects of SP-style ‘mainstreaming’ means that many of the surviving BAMER women’s organisations are no longer able (because of funding cuts) to provide support to women facing domestic violence who also have mental health or substance misuse needs. They are being expected to pass these women’s cases to other organisations who are neither able to cater for BAMER women nor understand specialist domestic violence issues.

Imkaan has launched a campaign and an Early Day Motion (EDM) has been tabled by Linda Riordan MP in support of these concerns. You can access this on the following link:

We would be very grateful if you could support us by passing this e-mail onto other MPs who you think would be willing to sign-up to the EDM.

We are holding a public meeting, hosted by Linda Riordan MP and John McDonnell MP, to highlight these issues on February 6th 2008, MacMillan Room, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA at 6.30 to 8.30pm and we hope that you can lend your support by attending. The meeting will consist of a panel discussion from key domestic violence organisations in the sector including Imkaan, Southall Black Sisters, Newham Asian Women’s Project and the Nia Project.


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