Talitha Koum director hopes to open Suffolk refuge within weeks

The Hope Centre officially opened in 2016. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Hope Centre officially opened in 2016. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The boss of the charity that was kick-started with £20,000 from the “Somebody’s Daughter” charity in the wake of the Ipswich murders has insisted that the first women to live in a new centre near the town could move in next month.

Ken Donaldson at The Hope Centre. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ken Donaldson at The Hope Centre. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The Talitha Koum charity set up the Hope Centre in a rural location near Ipswich thanks to donations and grants totalling about £500,000. That included £20,000 from the Ipswich Star’s Somebody’s Daughter campaign to help get the project started.

However, funding cuts mean no women have actually moved in yet although it was completed in late 2016.

The centre was designed to provide a refuge from women suffering from alcohol and drug addiction – and provide a way out from a life of prostitution.

But charity director Ken Donaldson said cuts to local authority funding meant no women had yet been able to move into the new centre – although the charity had been able to help many women in the community with addiction problems over the last three and a half years.

He said: “We approached 150 councils offering accommodation and support to women suffering from addiction problems but funding cuts mean the money was not there.”

The charity was now looking at finding alternative funding from charities, clients’ housing benefit payments, or self-financing residents.

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Mr Donaldson said the charity was still determined to offer residential services to women facing addiction problems in the seven rooms it had built at the centre and he was hopeful the first residents would be able to move in next month once registration and approvals had been obtained from the local council.

The “Somebody’s Daughter” charity was set up by the Evening Star, now the Ipswich Star, and Ipswich Borough Council in the wake of the murders at the end of 2006.

More than £70,000 was raised.

Brad Jones, editor of the EADT and Ipswich Star, said: “We are deeply concerned to hear of the issues at the Hope Centre. Readers gave generously to our Somebody’s Daughter campaign, and £20,000 of this money was used to help kick start the plans for the centre.

“We will be discussing the latest news with the charity as a matter of urgency, on behalf of all those readers who donated to the campaign.”