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WALSALL: “Critical”refuge finally gets go-ahead

WALSALL: “Critical”refuge finally gets go-ahead

PIC: Anjum Design

A “critical” safe haven in Walsall to help black and ethnic minority women escape violence has finally been given the go-ahead.

A refuge to be run by the Roshni organisation will be built in Moat Road to provide support for up to 13 adults and 16 children. The development will see unused workshops demolished to take its place.

Original proposals were opposed by planning officers who were concerned the planned refuge would not be suitable for residents and would have a negative impact on neighbours.

But in April, members of Walsall Council’s planning committee overruled them saying they had a duty of help women and children in trouble.

The plan was backed by councillors subject to conditions, which have now been finalised and agreed.

Roshni has been providing support for black and ethnic minority victims of abuse since the late 1970s and said there is a desperate need for this facility.

A spokesperson for Roshni said: “There is a distinct lack of specialist led by and for BME refuge accommodation for minoritised women affected by violence against women and girls.

“The lack of choice is an on-going challenge for BME women and children seeking refuge accommodation.

“Mainstream/non-specialist services are often funded to provide a ‘similar’ service to those of specialist ‘by and for’ BME ending violence against women and girls services.

“However, what needs to be taken into account is that a ‘one size fits all approach’ to addressing the needs of BME women and children can serve to mask the inequalities that by and for BME services seek to address.

“Whilst same language support is valued by women and children accessing specialist and dedicated by and for BME provision, there are numerous additional benefits, including the understanding of ‘cultural’ nuances and context, which means that women and children do not need to continually offer explanations.

“We know that non-BME services may provide value to some women and children however services which are specialist by and for the communities they seek to serve, are not rooted in Eurocentric ideology, but rather offer the specialist responses needed which understands the context of racism and other oppressions BME women & children are experiencing and can add value.

“The picture of the BME ending violence against women and girls sector today is one of challenge and uncertainty but also one of determination and survival.

“As long as intersecting oppressions persist and as long as BME women and girls are subjected to violence, however it manifests, specialist and dedicated services like Roshni are critical and need to be meaningfully sustained.”

Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter

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