herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Refuge centre which has become ‘lifeline’ to close before Christmas

A centre that provides shelter for victims of domestic violence will close within weeks unless it gets state funding of €350,000 per year.

The Cuan Alainn Centre in Tallaght – run by the Respond organisation – currently houses seven vulnerable adults and 16 children, but will have to close in December if it doesn’t get the cash.

However, last night the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, ruled out giving any funds, and the Department of Children also declined to make any commitment to provide the cash to keep the service running.

One resident of Cuan Alainn, who did not wish to be named, explained the impact of the service for her and her two sons.

“It’s scary to go to a new place,” she said. “It’s like help on tap here, it’s been a lifeline for me. There is the fear of the unknown. Your whole body has to be reconstructed and reconnected before you can move on.”

Respond CEO Ned Brennan says the centre has run up costs in excess of a million euro since its foundation in 2012.

“We have been trying to get funding from Tusla for the last number of months without any success,” he said.

“We have been funding it without State intervention for the past three-and-a-half years.

“Women and children who have experienced domestic violence are disturbed, distraught and in a broken way. We help them break the link and move away from the partner.”

However, Mr Brennan remained optimistic that it may be saved.

“We are hopeful, with the Budget coming up. There is no doubt but there is a need for it,” he said.

“There are nine units, and we have been full from day one. We hope that the Minister will appreciate it is a high quality service.”

The manager of the centre, Elaine Burnett, said the impact of the closure on December 18 would be “detrimental” to residents.

“If they don’t find somewhere in 12 weeks, they will have to return back home to the violent situation or to accommodation for the homeless,” she said.

“They were shocked – they have enough to concentrate on.”

Cuan Alainn provides second-stage housing and onsite support and care to victims of domestic violence.

“Women can make 35 to 40 attempts to leave the situation,” said Elaine.

“We are 24-7, there is always someone on board to help.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs said it was their understanding that Cuan Alainn was established independently of the state.

Request

“The Department of Children and Youth Affairs met with Respond, at their request, to discuss the current situation in Cuan Alainn,” the representative said. “The most recent information provided indicates that Respond, which is made up of two companies, remains in good financial health.

“The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs hopes that the matter can be satisfactorily resolved, by allowing sufficient time for all avenues to be explored by the relevant parties.”

A spokeswoman for Tusla said the agency has also met with Respond but “as matters stand, there is no funding available in the Tusla 2015 budget to allocate to this service”.

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