Dream of women’s refuge now closer

IPSWICH: A vulnerable women’s refuge, part funded by The Evening Star’s Somebody’s Daughter Fund, is a step closer to reality today.

Talitha Koum, an initiative of the Christian charity Release Ipswich, has been given planning permission by Suffolk Coastal District Council to open the rehabilitation centre on a farm north of Ipswich.

The charity will run the centre in Witnesham which will be open to all women, regardless of faith, who are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction.

The project is partly funded by a �20,000 donation from the Somebody’s Daughter fund, which was set up by The Star in conjunction with Ipswich Borough Council in memory of the five young women, all sex workers, who were killed by Steve Wright in 2006.

The aim of Talitha Koum, which comes from a biblical phrase meaning “little girl, get up”, is to rescue vulnerable women in Ipswich and offer them a way out of their desperate lifestyles.

The charity is now embarking on a campaign to raise the estimated �500,000 needed to begin phase one of the project – conversion of the barn – which will open in the spring or summer of next year.

John Cobbold, chief executive of Release Ipswich, said: “We are pleased that we have been granted planning permission and we have tried to take everybody’s views on board.

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“We do feel that many people will be sympathetic to what we are doing, especially in the light of what has happened in Ipswich.

“There are still women in Ipswich who are caught up in a life of drug and alcohol addiction, very often leading to prostitution, and also some who are homeless on the streets.”

The centre will offer a peaceful setting to allow up to 12 women – who live in or have a connection to Ipswich – a chance to put the past behind them and turn their lives around.

The students will receive counselling and new life skills to help them beat their addiction.

Anyone wishing to contribute can do so online at www.eveningstar.co.uk, in person at Ipswich Borough Council’s customer services centre in Ipswich town hall, by calling 01473 433777, or by sending a cheque made payable to Somebody’s Daughter Memorial Fund to PO Box 772, Ipswich Borough Council, Grafton House, 15-17 Russell Road, Ipswich, IP1 2DE.

n What do you think of this idea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk