Labour and Co-operative MP for Redcar, Anna Turley, has welcomed new domestic violence funding commitment from Cleveland Police Commissioner and local partners.

EVA Women’s Aid in Redcar were informed in March that their bid for the Rape Support Fund for 2019-22 was unsuccessful, putting some of the charity’s services for survivors of rape and sexual violence at risk of closure.

Anna raised the issue in Parliament in a Westminster Hall debate, urging justice ministers to reconsider. She also wrote to Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger asking for his support.

Working with NHS England and other partners, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has now provided funding to sustain the sexual violence counselling service across Redcar provided by EVA Women’s Aid. Through this successful partnership working, the service can be retained until at least March 2020.

To better understand the needs of services users across Cleveland, the OPCC has established a Sexual Violence Commissioners Forum. This group will meet regularly to ensure specialist support is available to meet the needs of all victims including services that are accessible, specialist and sustainable.

Responding to the news, Anna said:

“I am really delighted that Barry Coppinger as Police and Crime Commissioner has been able to find funding to support EVA Women’s Aid until next year.

“The news that the Ministry of Justice were pulling EVA’s funding was heartbreaking and I was really worried about what it would mean for service staff and crucially those women who needed to access specialist rape and sexual violence counselling services. It was another devastating cut showing the impact of austerity.

“Locally we have been able to step up and find a short term solution. I approached Barry for help and I’m pleased he and other local partners have been able to find this extra funding to support EVA’s vital service which helps over 1000 women every year.

“Working together collectively we have been able to ensure that EVA can continue to provide this vital service until next year for some of the most vulnerable women.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said:

“I’m disappointed that the Ministry of Justice has made the decision not to prioritise the vital service EVA Women’s Aid provide to vulnerable women and children who survive rape, sexual abuse and violence.

“Their decision would force a large number of vulnerable people – particularly those living in Redcar and Cleveland’s rural communities – to travel to Middlesbrough to access other support agencies, who themselves are not in a position to take on additional service users.

“Thanks to partnership working with NHS England and other commissioning partners, we have been able to secure funding to protect EVA’s counselling service until March 2020, but the long-term sustainability of the service is in the hands of the MoJ, who I urge to put victims first and reconsider their decision to withdraw funding.”

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