Hostels ‘exclude’ the most needy women

Women who are victims of domestic violence and also have mental
health or substance misuse problems are struggling to access the
services they need, research by Women’s Aid reveals.

A report by the campaign group says that despite up to 60 per cent
of women mental health service users experiencing domestic
violence, only one-fifth of 216 women’s refuges who responded to
their survey said they would accommodate women with additional
mental health needs.

Although these women are twice as likely as other women to misuse
substances, this group too is excluded from hostels, the report

Clare Ladlow, who manages the integrated service at Northampton
Council’s Sunflower Centre, said it was “ironic” that, given the
clear link between mental health and domestic violence and drug and
alcohol misuse, refuges excluded them.

She said proposals in the government’s consultation paper on
improving best value performance indicators on domestic violence,
published in June, would fail to protect women with multiple

But former domestic violence co-ordinator at the Office of the
Deputy Prime Minister, Caroline Rowsell, said that the sector had
“missed an opportunity” to improve services during the three-year
transitional period to the Supporting People programme, suggesting
groups of refuges could have worked together to employ mental
health or drug and alcohol specialists.

– Women’s Aid report from

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