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More demand than ever for Lighthouse Women's Aid as charity celebrates 40th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 07:27 23 November 2016 | UPDATED: 07:27 23 November 2016

Lighthouse Women's Aid is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Lighthouse Women's Aid is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

It has given women and children refuge from domestic violence since 1976, and today Lighthouse Women's Aid is needed more than ever.

Sally Winston, chief executive of Lighthouse Women's Aid.Sally Winston, chief executive of Lighthouse Women's Aid.

That is according to chief executive Sally Winston, who is speaking as the Suffolk charity marks its 40th anniversary.

Lighthouse now operates a 15-room refuge in Ipswich, as well as a women and children’s wellbeing centre and an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) service for high-risk victims of abuse to get one-to-one support.

Mrs Winston said: “Demand is definitely rising. Since we opened our refuge it is full most of the time.

“We have had really good outcomes for a lot of women and we dread to think where they would be if services likes ours weren’t there.”

The Lighthouse refuge was established as a result of changes to the Housing Act, which classified victims of domestic abuse as statutory homeless.

Annually the refuge takes in 100 to 150 women and children. The IDVA service helps 140 to 150 women every month, while in the last year Lighthouse has supported around 800 people through its wellbeing centre.

But Mrs Winston said the charity, like many others across the UK, faced financial challenges, with funding for its refuge being cut.

The women and children’s centre, based in Berners Street, Ipswich, is operated through a grant from the Big Lottery Fund. However, Mrs Winston said there was no guarantee this cash would continue from next year.

She said she hoped the women’s centre would, in the future, gain funding from a statutory body.

“We see it as an essential service not only for Ipswich, but for women and children through out Suffolk and our fear is that if we can’t secure the funds then that service will disappear,” Mrs Winston said. “That’s our biggest concern.”

Tomorrow Lighthouse will celebrate its 40th anniversary by hosting an event at its wellbeing centre for invited professionals to learn more about what the charity does.

Representatives from the refuge, IDVA service and women’s centre will be there to showcase the work they have done and continue to do to help victims and survivors of domestic abuse in Suffolk. Mayor of Ipswich Roger Fern will cut a special cake to commemorate the milestone.

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