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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Walsall women’s refuge is given go-ahead

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Walsall women’s refuge is given go-ahead

Image: LDRS

A bid to provide a safe haven in Walsall for women and children who are victims of domestic violence has been given the go-ahead.

Members of Walsall Council’s planning committee over-ruled officer recommendations to turn down the planned women’s refuge in Moat Road, saying they had a duty to help them.

The refuge will be run by the Roshni organisation which has provided support for black and ethnic minority victims of abuse since the late 1970s.

As part of the plan, a disused workshop will be demolished and a two-story building that can provide for 13 adults and 16 children erected in its place.

Applicants said the facility, which will be staffed by support workers, would provide temporary accommodation for those fleeing abuse.

Walsall Council planning officers raised concerns about the application saying that it would not provide a satisfactory residential facility and would impact on neighbouring properties.

But ward councillor Khizar Hussain said: “The workshop has been vacant and empty for a long time and this proposal will have no significant impact on the neighbouring properties.

“This is a refuge for women suffering from domestic violence and who have been victims of crime. It is going to help them and support them.

“The Roshni organisation is reputable and they’ll be running this well. It will be beneficial to the community and women in need of help.”

Committee chairman Mike Bird said he and his wife have supported existing refuges in Walsall with fundraising support.

He said: “My wife has worked extensively with two refuges we have in Walsall and you do see people who are in danger of their life.

“A facility that’s maybe not the best is better than the alternative and it takes a lot of guts to walk away from domestic violence.

“I can speak with some experience of someone very close to me who had that very same experience, married to a drunken individual and was grateful to get away with their life.”

Committee member Aftab Nawaz added: “There is a real need for this refuge. Cases of domestic violence have increased and Roshni as an organisation has provided support since the late 70s.

“It’s one of the most horrible things that can happen in society when someone undergoes domestic violence so to get them out of there and into a refuge is probably the most important thing we can do to safeguard women and children.

“The agent said we are looking at keeping people here for a short period of time and I think its appropriate to have this here.”

And Councillor Anthony Harris added: “We’re talking about abuse of women, wives and children and it comes to the state in some instances where it costs them their lives.

“They are not only abused, they are murdered. That leaves an obligation on all of us who are happily married and have beautiful families.”

Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter

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