Women's refuge built in wake of Ipswich murders expands

Official opening of The Hope Centre on the 10th anniversary of Ipswich Murders

Official opening of the Hope Centre on the 10th anniversary of Ipswich Murders in 2016 - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A support centre for vulnerable women funded in the wake of the Ipswich serial murders has expanded to help more people in need.

The Hope Centre in Witnesham, part-funded by generous Evening Star readers, has helped 21 women since opening in June 2018 who have faced troubles including childhood abuse, addiction, loss and mental ill health.

Previously offering eight en-suite rooms to women in need, the centre run by Christian charity Talitha Koum has now expanded to provide support to 11 people.

Gill Dean, general manager at the Hope Centre in Witnesham

Gill Dean, general manager at the Hope Centre in Witnesham - Credit: The Hope Centre

Gill Dean, general manager at the Hope Centre, said: "We are extremely grateful to our many supporters, neighbours, friends, church and community groups who so generously support us, donate money to us and pray for us and with us as we continue to grow and establish our service here in Suffolk.

"Each woman is unique and whilst there are many primary needs residents have in common when coming to stay at the Hope Centre, each service user is on her own journey.

"Importantly, alongside recovery and healing staff are able to provide support and direction to enable each woman to create an informed supported pathway which she travel at her own pace.

"Staff will enable each woman to take up educational opportunities, integrate in meaningful activities, give access to try new recreational, vocational and leisure interests in response to the individuals needs."

One of the rooms in the centre in Witnesham

One of the rooms in the centre in Witnesham - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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The centre was built in late 2016 with help from the newspaper's Somebody's Daughter charity, however local authority cuts meant it did not take on its first resident for almost two years.

The charity campaign raised more than £70,000 in the wake of the 2006 murders.

Ms Dean added the team at the Hope Centre will continue to do all it can to support women in crisis – including offering support in accessing benefits, talking about options and accessing legal support when facing past events.

She said: "We are delighted to be where we are right now, but not complacent, we will continue to develop and increase the work we do to break the cycle of vulnerability women experience when their experiences become overwhelming."

Those in need of help can contact the charity's referral team on 01473 852050, or via their email address.

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