Seaton mums fight to save women’s refuge

East Devon safe house is vital sanctuary for battered women, says Mothers’ Union

MOTHERS in Seaton are “on the march” to prevent the closure of a women’s refuge.

They are campaigning against plans to shut the Honiton safe house, which operators claim is it is underused and no longer “sustainable” in its current location.

Seaton Mothers’ Union says the East Devon refuge provides a vital sanctuary for victims of domestic violence who would otherwise have nowhere to turn.

Secretary Marilyn Coates said they want people to write to the Devon and Cornwall Housing Group, which provides the home, urging them to think again.

She told The Herald: “We have been supporting, with others, the safe house for several years now.

“It is an very necessary adjunct to life these days. There are a great many women who desperately need somewhere safe to go when their relationships break down and they and their children need to get away from a volatile situation.

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“Women frequently arrive with the marks of a battering upon them.

“Devon and Cornwall Housing are withdrawing funding from the safe house with the excuse that it is not needed anymore and that it is not in a safe place.

“It is desperately needed and we have been supplying them with food, clothes, sheets, towels, baby clothes, cot sheets, blankets, toiletries - indeed anything that we are asked for.

“Most of these women arrive, with their children, with only the clothes they have on.”

Now Seaton Mothers’ Union is appealing for others to join their campaign to “keep this very necessary house open”. They want them to write letters in support to Devon and Cornwall Housing’s Exeter office, Paris Street, Exeter, EX1 2JZ.

Added Mrs Coates: “There but for the grace of God go any of us. It all comes down to money but this is money that must be found if we are not to lose the safe house.”

Bernadette Crawford, general support service manager for Independent Futures, part of the Devon and Cornwall Housing Group, said: “The East Devon Refuge has not proved suitable as a refuge in its current location. We have not had the number of referrals needed to sustain the service in its position.

“We are working with supporting people, East Devon District Council and ADVA (Against Domestic Violence and Abuse) to find a solution to retain a domestic violence service in the district.”