Archive for March 26th, 2008

Labour’s Deputy Leader at Holyood has hit out at plans to unveil a series of Hooters* restaurants in Scotland. The US-chain that insists that its all-female waiting staff wear skimpy outfits is planning to open in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Cathy Jamieson, said that she was hopeful that the restaurants would be rejected by both the public and local authorities. She said:

“Scotland does not want these so-called restaurants coming to our cities. This kind of American import is one that we can do without. Violence against women is a big problem in Scotland and these types of establishments do nothing to promote equality or positive images of women in the workplace. Hooters is a rather old fashioned 1980s concept and here in the 21st Century I think both men and women have moved on from this kind of quite degrading spectacle.”

Ms Jamieson’s comments were echoed by women’s and student’s groups across Scotland.

A spokeswoman for Scottish Women’s Aid said:

“A company that not only promotes, but demands the objectification of women in the workplace should have no place in Scotland. As a country we have been committed to gender equality for many years now and are the envy of other nations because of our strong stance. Welcoming a company such as Hooters would most definitely undermine the government’s strong position on this.”

A Spokesman for Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation said:

“The Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation is very concerned about the prospect of a chain like Hooters opening up in Scotland. Using women’s bodies in such a blatant way to sell a product is sexism at its worst. Women’s bodies are not commodities. If we are to challenge the high levels of violence against women in our country, we need to end this kind of objectification of women, not invite it into our high streets.”

NUS Scotland Women’s Officer Sarah Watson said:

“Thousands of students across Scotland face financial hardship and the idea that some could be attracted to jobs in these so-called restaurants is deeply troubling. The link between female objectification and violence against women is well known and establishments such as Hooters do little to challenge female degradation.”

* Hooters in the US is based solely on having almost naked female employees working in their restaurants. Hooter female staff must have their breasts exposed for the predominantly male customers. Hence the term ‘Hooters.’

The Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize is awarded each year to commemorate the life and work of Emma Humphreys who tragically died, aged 30, in 1998. Emma was a writer, campaigner and survivor of male violence who fought an historic struggle to overturn a murder conviction in 1995, supported by Justice for Women and other feminist campaigners. The annual prize of £1,000 is awarded to an individual woman who has, through writing or campaigning, raised awareness of violence against women and children.

Alongside the individual prize, the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize judges choose the recipient of a group award, established to recognise the unsung work done by many women’s groups and organisations. This award, while it does not at this time carry any financial reward, marks the outstanding contribution of women’s organisations who work in this embattled area and whose creativity and resourcefulness have resulted in developments that combat the prevalence of male violence.

Criteria to consider in nominating a woman for the individual prize:

* The individual woman should be someone who, through writing or campaigning, has sought to raise awareness of violence against women and children

* While she may have done this work as part of her paid employment, the judges will give priority to those nominees whose campaigning or writing has clearly extended outside of the paid work environment, or been conducted on a voluntary basis

* Nominators should ensure that the supporting statement focuses on the achievements of the individual woman herself rather than describing the achievements of the project/organisation she works for

* Judges will give due consideration to the issue around which the individual woman has been working, and may prioritise a nomination that they deem to highlight a pressing political imperative for feminist campaigning in the present

* In completing the supporting statement, nominators should attempt to point out the particular and unique aspects of the work which is commended in the nomination; it is not necessary to provide a full biography

* Nominators should be confident that, should their nominee be awarded the prize, she would be willing to participate in some related media interviews or events, in discussion with the organisers of the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize

Criteria to consider in nominating a women’s group or organisation for the group award:

* The group or organisation should have done important work in raising awareness of violence against women and children, and have sought to bring about change

* It would be helpful if the nominator could draw attention to any particular obstacles the group has encountered

* The nominator should try to give examples of any initiatives which best exemplify the resourcefulness of the group or organisation in carrying forward work which seeks to combat violence against women and children

* It would be helpful if the nominator could indicate, where possible, how effective certain strategies or developments adopted by the group have been in combating the prevalence of such violence

* The nominator should give a brief explanation of the funding status of the group, and how the award might be used to help assist the group in future

To download a nomination form go to

Read about previous years’ winners at

In 2008 the fourteenth annual Carers Week will highlight the impact caring can have on your health and wellbeing. The results of this survey will be at the centre of Carers Week publicity and activity, and will be sent to Government and all national politicians, to healthcare professionals and others who have powers and responsibilities that can help to improve the health and quality of life of carers.

We want to hear about your experience of being a carer; the rewards and the frustrations, and the effects on your health. What are the implications for you, as well as for the person you care for?

Carers Week is organised by ten leading charities to support the UK’s six million carers. Last year over 1,000 local partners organised more than 6,000 events and activities; in 2008 we aim for the number to be even greater.

Our key aims are for Carers Week to:
* Highlight and celebrate the contribution made by carers
* Campaign for better support and services for carers
* Promote policies and best practice that can improve carers’ quality of life
* Reach out to ‘hidden’ carers, ensuring they know where to find help and support

This survey should only take a few minutes of your time to complete. Many thanks for your assistance, and for ensuring that carers voices are heard loud and clear.

To complete the survey go to

The previously announced closing date for the survey was Monday 31st March, but we plan to extend that by a few days, to the end of the week.

The results of the survey form the centrepiece of Carers Week. And the survey is a key tool in the work we carry out with the media, with MPs and with professionals, who can all have such an effect on carers’ lives. It’s not just ticking the boxes; the comments carers add also help to inform all the work we do.

We need to ensure that the survey is representative of carers from all parts of the UK so if you’re in touch with carers in your area please forward this message on to them.

Book Now! Early Bird Reductions Only Available To 28 March 2008! (* see below)

On the 10th anniversary of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s ground-breaking Akayesu judgment, an international conference is being held in Durham University to rethink rape law from national, international and European perspectives. The conference will debate rape law reform at the national level, where many countries are reconsidering their sexual offence laws; it will examine the different policies and practices across Europe; and it will consider recent developments in international law and policy. It will ask, how crucial are women judges, lawyers and activists to securing lasting change?

The conference will be opened by Judge Navanethem Pillay, of the International Criminal Court and formerly of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, who will reflect on the part she played in securing, in Akayesu, the first international conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity based on rape.

Other plenary speakers at the conference include:
o Professor Catharine MacKinnon, a scholar and activist of global renown, has been one of the most important and influential commentators on the Akayesu judgment, as well as on sexual violence generally;
o Professor Karen Engle has written extensively on international human rights and sexual violence and particularly on the challenges for feminism in these fields of law; and
o Jessica Neuwirth is co-founder and President of Equality Now, the internationally acclaimed organisation campaigning to end violence against women and girls around the world;
o Vera Baird QC, MP is the Solicitor General for England & Wales and has played a central role in bringing about change in the way rape is prosecuted and in the treatment of rape victims;
o Professor Liz Kelly of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit at London Metropolitan University will debate the first results of her comparative research on the policing and prosecution of rape cases throughout Europe.

The conference will also hold sessions entitled:
o Rethinking rape law: what can we learn from elsewhere?;
o Rethinking rape law: roundtable discussion on the role of women lawyers, judges and activists;
o Rethinking rape law: where next?

The aim of the conference is to bring together scholars, activists, policy-makers, lawyers and all persons interested in rape law and policy. The plenary speakers and wider sessions aim to spark debate among participants, so that there is full debate and discussion.

The conference is being held in the historic and picturesque city of Durham in the north east of England. The conference will be held in the recently opened Calman Learning Centre, with its unrivalled views of Durham Cathedral, and the Conference Dinner and accommodation will be in Durham Castle, which is part of the University.

* We have received an email saying the ‘early bird’ discount booking has been extended to 31st March – please contact for details. For more details about the conference please contact

Behind Closed Doors, which has been helping women in Otley, Ilkley and Aireborough for a decade, was facing closure because of a funding crisis.

Now its future is secure for another year after grants and donations from a number of organisations and local businesses.

The organisation, which was formed in 1998, saw referral rates rocket in 2007 – but despite the need for its services the group was drawing a blank with funding bids.

With money running out last September, the group’s outreach programme was under threat and the organisation was facing closure. Now it has been revealed the service is secure until early next year after the success of a number of funding bids and donations from local businesses.

The group will also be one of the organisations to benefit from this year’s Otley Carnival.

Spokesman Louise Tyne said: “We are not out of the woods, but we have got some funding and we are pretty much secure until February or March next year.”

The group needs between £120,000 and £130,000 a year just to keep its services running at last year’s level and organisers say demand is growing. With no statutory funding they rely on charitable and trust grants.

Louise said: “Our referrals have increased massively – partly because of publicity and partly because we have increased out geographical area.”

The group has received messages of support from victims of domestic violence, professionals working in the field and Otley MP Greg Mulholland, who described their work as “essential”.

Louise said the group was extremely grateful for the support it had received and to everyone who had rallied round to help secure its future.

“I think we were really chuffed at the support we have had. It means a lot and makes it worthwhile,” she said “It is hard to plan and move forward when you are constantly having to worry about whether you are going to have the funding to carry out a piece of work.”

The organisation is now hoping to set up a Friends of Behind Closed Doors fund-raising group. Anyone interested is invited to a meeting which will be held at the United Reformed Church in Bridge Street, Otley from 10am to noon on Saturday, April 5. Or they can call Maggie Shires on 07706 804080.

Behind Closed Doors is also looking for new members to join its management committee, and is asking anyone interested to phone Ruth Davieson on 07813 034959.

An Irish Examiner/Red C national opinion poll on people’s attitudes to sex crimes found a core section of our society think rape victims are totally or partially responsible for being attacked.

It found:

* More than 30% think a victim is some way responsible if she flirts with a man or fails to say no clearly.

* 10% of people think the victim is entirely at fault if she has had a number of sexual partners.

* 37% think a woman who flirts extensively is at least complicit, if not completely in the wrong, if she is the victim of a sex crime.

* One in three think a woman is either partly or fully to blame if she wears revealing clothes.

* 38% believe a woman must share some of the blame if she walks through a deserted area.

The results also show that defence barristers, looking to swing the deciding three members in every 12-person jury, can exploit misgivings in certain demographics about the perceived responsibility of female victims.

Dramatic differences in empathy towards victims based on age and social class are revealed. Gender, however, had little impact.

In every category, widowed, divorced and separated people took the harshest view on the role of the female victim, compared with married or cohabiting couples.

The results of the poll support the results of the ground-breaking Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) report in 2002, which found 15% of the population believed a raped woman was not an innocent victim.

The SAVI report, which was published in partnership with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, also found 6% of women were raped at some point as adults.

Only a fraction reported the crime, as they feared they would be blamed or their claims would not be believed.

Chief executive of the DRCC Ellen O’Malley Dunlop said the findings of the Irish Examiner poll justified victims’ reluctance to come forward and further explained why less than 10% of rape allegations lead to a conviction.

“By its very nature rape means there is no consent involved, so the perpetrator is fully responsible. Just because a woman is in a situation where she is vulnerable it does not mean she is in any way to blame if she is raped,” she said.

Ms O’Malley Dunlop said although the SAVI report used broader definitions, she had hoped attitudes to sex crime were improving since 2002.

The Irish Examiner/Red C poll provided some hope in this regard because younger people were far less likely to say a female rape victim was accountable if she acted in a certain way.

Responding to the Irish Examiner survey, Amnesty International said the Government has a responsibility to focus on the formal education system in order to change attitudes.

Cliona Saidlear, policy officer at Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI), said Ireland had the lowest conviction rates for rape in Europe and people needed to understand their attitudes to sex crimes were contributing to the problem.

“We as a society need to have this discussion. It is not just about what other people can do, these are attitudes we can change ourselves because this is not acceptable. If people are thinking somehow because you are drunk or wear certain clothes you are inviting rape then it makes it even harder for a woman to report what happened. You can see this in the massive levels of under-reporting by the victims of rape.”

She said it was too easy for people to sit back and say others need to change their attitudes without taking a critical look at themselves.

“We have to look at what we think, and our own attitudes. We in the RCNI are calling for reform of the legal system and that is badly needed. We also are looking at how the education system can help and that needs to be looked at.

“But we cannot leave this to sex education classes or changes in the law. This is about how we behave ourselves and if we continue to blame people for a crime committed on them then we will never overcome this problem,” said Ms Saidlear.

Taking a scattergun approach to justice is ignoring the real root of the violence issue*

Much has been written over the last week about the terrible violence on our streets. Depending on which side of the bleeding heart you find yourself we should either all have a group hug, or at the very least get right to the core of the problem — society. Few, if any, are calling for lengthy sentences to be meted out without fear or favour, or a radical overhaul of our prison system where prisoners might actually serve their full term and get no remission. Zero tolerance appears to be an expression that even our most fed up of commentators appear unwilling to shout. Aside from missing the point on how we might deal with the lunatics who stalk our streets, the general analysis that it is all a societal problem is way off the mark.

Firstly, it of course diminishes the notion of family upbringing and personal responsibility. These are considered dirty words, which means we as a group are therefore responsible for pushing a screwdriver into the head and neck of the two unfortunate Polish men — not the individual or individuals who did it, but society as a whole.

Coupled with this nonsense is that somehow men, women and children are equally responsible for crime in the country. Your sex is irrelevant, as is your social background, as is your age. We all apparently share this criminal burden. It is this scattergun approach to justice that has us in the mess we are in today. Let’s say it straight once and for all. Males, and more specifically lower income/no legal income males, are responsible for crime in this country. Not the decent young man scratching a living trying to pay a mortgage and make ends meet but the hoodie generation, the automatons that rule our street corners. It is these flotsam and jetsam that are responsible for all our crime. Not women, men.

Only one opinion piece recently has managed to identify this correctly and if you think it’s all wild opinion, think again. The Prison Service Report of 2006 tells a sorry tale of the collection who are currently lolling in our prisons and one statistic above all others sticks out. Over 90pc of our prison population is male. Nearly all violent crime is committed by males, be it murder, rape, or assault. Virtually all the serious drug offence are committed by males. You name the crime, it almost certainly has a male behind it and the more serious it is, the more certainty you can have that it has been committed by a man.

Most of the tiny percentage of females in prison are in there for relatively petty offences such as shoplifting and street robbery to feed a drug habit and there is no need to ask who encouraged them with this habit — males. This small group are not without responsibility. They are, however, merely an hors d’oeuvre to the main course that is the criminal Irish male.

An examination of the age ranges of male prisoners makes for equally fascinating reading. You might have thought that the vast bulk would be under 30. You would be forgiven for thinking, maybe even hoping, that by 30, men would have acquired some sense as they stand on the cusp of early middle age. But in Ireland we boast a male prison population of just shy of 40pc who are over the age of 30. A laughable 15pc are over 40 and 4pc are hurtling towards their pensions.

It is this 60pc group aged under 30 who should be our target. As a rule, 50-year-old men with jobs do not commit crimes. When they do it is white collar and before you ask, yes I would prefer to be approached by a white collar criminal on a dark night with a file then a blue collar thug looking for his next fix. Young and not so young males with no jobs and no discernible income stream need to be the target of An Garda Siochana if we are to free our streets of violence and drugs. We are in a crisis and chaos is evident in our towns and cities. Forget the women, the young and old, target instead males and particularly the type of recidivist males who come before the courts every day.

It is high time we stopped making sweeping statements about crime being endemic across class, creed and sex. It is not. Know your target. It is male. It is young(ish) and unfortunately it is coming soon to a town near you.

You have been warned.

* Opinion piece by John O’Keeffe, Dean of the Law School, Dublin Business School.

As many as 300 young women are believed to be coerced into marriage against their will annually in Scotland, with violence and even murder being the result in a small number of cases.

England is introducing new civil laws to ban the practice south of the border, but heads of the Islamic community in Scotland are pushing for new criminal sanctions.

As well as prosecuting husbands for rape, relatives involved in forced marriages could find themselves charged with aiding and abetting a crime.

Among those leading the campaign is Bashir Ahmad, a Nationalist MSP in Glasgow, who became aware of the extent of forced marriage while a councillor in the city.

He said: “If forced marriages were a criminal offence it would be a real deterrent and I will be bringing forward a Private Members Bill on this. Making it a civil offence might be a good first step but it may not go far enough.”

Osama Saeed, chairman of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation, said forced marriages were slowly on the decline, but added: “I cannot help but feel this would be speeded along by effective legislation in the area. Last year the Forced Marriages Act brought in civil measures to deal with the issue in England. This gives the courts more powers to step in to help victims, even before an actual wedding has taken place.”

But he said Westmisnter had “shied away” from creating a specific criminal offence. “This was because MPs took the view that it may stop victims coming forward to seek help if a parent would go to jail as a result. I don’t see why criminality can’t be an option, with it being left to the victim whether or not to press charges. I do wonder why offences such as rape have not been used to prosecute to date.

“Creating new legislation now though, to deal with the incidents of forced marriage that do exist, will send out a strong message that this violation of human rights will not be tolerated.”

Forced marriages – which are different from the accepted practice of arranged marriages – are still part of life in Britain’s Asian communities. In 1996, before becoming Britain’s first Muslim MP, Mohammad Sarwar travelled to Pakistan to bring back two Glasgow girls, Rifat Haq, 20, and sister Nazia, 13, who had been forced into marriage by their father.

Around 300 cases of forced marriage are reported to the UK Government’s Forced Marriage Unit every year although campaigners believe the true figure is much higher. More than 80% of victims of forced marriages are women, most between the ages of 15 and 24.

Last month, an English coroner concluded that 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed had been unlawfully killed because she had resisted efforts to force her into an unwanted marriage.

The new civil legislation being introduced by Westminster will create a list of ‘third parties’, such as teachers, social workers, women’s rights groups and local councils, who would have the authority to go to court to try to prevent families from forcing their children into marriage in Britain.

Those served with a forced marriage protection order would be required to stop the marriage and stay away from the victim. A breach of the order would be classed as contempt of court and liable to a heavy fine or up to two years in jail.

Nuzrat Raza, who runs a refuge for women fleeing forced marriages in Glasgow, said: “The legislation in Scotland is not adequate and we need something that addresses the question of forced marriages directly. We need the English legislation at the very least. ”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was looking at whether it should create civil legislation on forced marriage. “We will seek the views of the public, including those affected by forced marriage and the agencies providing support to them,” she said.

Saima doesn’t know which was the worst. The constant emotional pressure from her father to travel to Pakistan to marry a man she didn’t know or the beating by her younger brother, trying to intimidate her into bending to her father’s will.

Saima, not her real name, was just 18 when the nagging began in her Glasgow home. But with her mother having reluctantly fled to escape her abusive father, she decided to stay behind to protect her two younger sisters.

She said. “My father would just use this heavy, heavy emotional blackmail to try to get me to agree, saying: ‘It would make me so proud if you were to get married. It’s not like he dragged me out of the house and forced me on to a plane to Pakistan but just this constant pressure. It was hard resisting but I would rather have a hard life than an unhappy one. My mum had enough of that.”

Her fathers’ justification was that with three teenage daughters to look after, he needed them to be married off at a young age. His brother agreed and one night attacked Saima to try to get her to change her mind. “He beat me up,” she says simply. “But I was determined not to give in because I didn’t know what would happen to my sisters.”

Last year, with her youngest sister now living in England with her mother she and her other sister took the decision to also flee the family home. Saima and her sister sought help at a refuge for women who have been victims or potential victims of forced marriages. They now share a flat and have cut all contact.

“I have never spoken to my dad or my brother since we left. There is no justification at all for what they wanted me to do.”–

A terrified 13-year-old girl mumbles some words in a foreign language and she becomes property of her new husband. She is left alone with the stranger, who is almost 20 years older than her, in his isolated village in Pakistan. He rapes her. She begs her mother for help, but the only words of advice she gets are ‘don’t make a scene’. In desperation the teenager tries to kill herself.

This is the true story of Moss Side councillor Sameem Ali we revealed earlier this month.

After giving birth at 14, she was allowed to come home to Britain to raise her baby. But after being mentally and physically abused for years by her family, she began to fear for her young son and ran away to start a new life in Manchester.

It is a story that new figures show is disturbingly common in our city.

Women in Manchester are being forced into marriages they do not want at an estimated rate of six a month and outreach workers suspect the true figure is even higher.

Central Manchester Women’s Aid , which is staffed by two part time workers, say they have dealt with 75 women seeking help to escape a forced marriage since April last year.

Nationwide, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit says it deals with about 300 cases a year, around a third of whom are children – some, like Sameem, as young as 13.

But Sandhyah Sharma, from Central Manchester Women’s Aid, says that if two part time women in Manchester see more than 100 women a year, as they did the previous year, then the national figures must be the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

“It’s a massive problem and it’s not just a South Asian community problem,” she says. “We see women from the Irish traveller community, Polish, Spanish, African women. Basically pick a country, any country where there is a tradition of arrangements or different ways of marriage then you will find issues around forced marriage.”

MPs also recognise that forced marriages, like instances of domestic violence, are vastly under reported.

A House of Commons select committee investigating forced marriage found that in 15 areas across the country 2,089 children were missing from school.

The figures were disclosed amid growing concern the pupils – mainly from ethnic minorities – were being forced into marriages abroad against their will.

Politicians have been debating whether or not to criminalise forced marriage for years.

Currently the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act , which was passed in Parliament last year, allows courts to make orders to protect the victim or the potential victim of a forced marriage and help remove them from that situation.

While aspects of the practice, like kidnap and rape, are illegal, forced marriage itself is still not against the law. But Mrs Ali, now 38, thinks that criminalising forced marriage would dissuade young people from reporting it at all.

“Imagine the situation where a 15-year-old knows they are going to be forced into a marriage and they ring the relevant number and police get involved. If the police then say, `OK, you’re being forced into a marriage, that’s a criminal act, we’re going to arrest your parents’ – which young girl or young boy is going to put their parents through that at that age?”

Instead, she thinks that the avenues of help, like the Forced Marriage Unit should be better publicised in schools and airports to raise awareness.

“The victims don’t know what help is out there or even if anyone can help them,” she says. “I only found out about the Forced Marriage Unit two years ago, and I’ve been in that situation.

“It’s still happening today and I think 25 years later, a quarter of a century, it’s still the same. My son is 24 years old now and it’s been shoved under the carpet for all these years.”

Between April 2007 and February 2008, 10,035 people were subjected to such assaults.

Between April 2006 and March 2007 there were 11,743 victims, indicating a slight decrease. March is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month and Surrey Police is encouraging victims to come forward.

Of the 10 murders committed in Surrey between April 2007 and February 2008, two were as a result of domestic violence. Each month, Surrey Police deals with 1,000 new domestic abuse cases.

Detective Chief Inspector Neville Blackwood, head of the public protection strategy unit at Surrey Police, was not surprised by the statistics.

“We are trying to raise awareness and improve confidence so [more] people can report it,” he said. “We are certain there will be a silent group of people who will not want to come forward because they are too scared.

“Some of the most vulnerable people are victims of abuse and that includes the child witnesses, so there’s a child abuse element to this as well,” DCI Blackwood said.

Each police division in Surrey has a dedicated team of officers fighting domestic abuse.

Those people who are deemed to be at the greatest risk of an attack, or a repeat assault, can receive specialist care from trained counsellors.

But there are still a number of victims not reporting domestic abuse.

DCI Blackwell appealed for people to seek help if they are in fear of being attacked, or suspect that a friend or relative has been abused.

Alcohol is thought to play a part in half of Surrey’s domestic abuse-related incidents.

There are a number of organisations helping people who have been attacked.

The South West Surrey Domestic Abuse Outreach Service has been operating in Surrey since 2004.

It helps men and women who have been or who fear being attacked.

The manager, known as Pauline, said: “Nothing shocks me anymore.

“My message to people would be not to be afraid to talk to someone. It’s not their fault. They are not alone. They should just pick up the phone.”

The Domestic Abuse Outreach Service can be reached on 01483 577392.

For more information visit or call Surrey Police on 0845 1252222.

A scheme that has successfully reduced domestic violence in Bournemouth and Poole is due to close in May – unless it can find last-minute funding of more than £100,000.

The Change Project was launched by the charity Family Matters three years ago with £400,000 from the National Lottery, and grants from local authorities. It has so far helped 75 families.

An estimated 80 per cent of Dorset murders are related to domestic violence.

With the Change Project, perpetrators attend sessions aimed at changing their behaviour, while partners and children are given a programme of help and support.

Research carried out by the charity found that incidents of domestic violence had become fewer and less severe among families using the project.

Many youngsters had been able to come out of child protection measures, including being in care, and women on the programme had gained self-esteem, with some returning to work or going to college.

But despite the success of the project, organisers have been unable to secure enough money to keep it going for another year.

A statement from the charity’s board said: “Family Matters does not have the reserves to be able to operate services without financial support and as such, we have no option open to us other than to close the project down with effect on May 10.”

Chairman of trustees Ron Lock said: “We have proved that this innovative project has worked in addressing some complex problems of domestic violence and abuse.

“It is disheartening for our trustees and staff that we have been unable to secure enough funding to continue its work, but it is the local families embroiled in the trauma of domestic violence who will feel the greatest impact.”

Manager Roni Jones said the project had received supportive emails and calls from colleagues in the police, social services and legal system.

“If we can identify £106,000 by April 10, we can reverse this decision and operate for another full year,” she said.