Now that Women’s Aid is officially closed, the aim of Women’s Lives Matter is going to change slightly. We are still a feminist anti-austerity campaign group dedicated to helping the domestic abuse victims of South Yorkshire, but without an existing support service to fight for we will have to work towards setting up a new one.
We already have several trained counsellors in Doncaster, including one who specialises in ethnic minority women, now unemployed after the closure of Women’s Aid. We also have an accountant and a solicitor among our supporters who can help us found a new organisation. We have even been offered space in the rooms above the Real Junk Food Project to use as a base; we just need to secure some funding to pay the wages of the staff. And we go to Doncaster council because this is a major public health issue and they have a duty of care to their electorate. Both local and national governments need to acknowledge that domestic violence is still a huge problem that can be significantly reduced by educating young people, providing refuges and therapy to victims, and treating offenders as dangerous criminals who must be kept away from their victims and rehabilitated.
Until we have the resources to set up a new service to replace Women’s Aid, we will be continuing our public awareness campaign to highlight how the Austerity policy is disproportionately affecting people who are already disadvantaged. We also have plans to use the room above the Real Junk Food Project to run educational schemes, screen films, and display artworks that support our cause. The BBC have also been in touch to ask if we’d like to be involved in a documentary, and a production company based in Sheffield has also expressed an interest in our work.
So, although we failed to keep Women’s Aid open, we now have an opportunity to found a new, improved service for the abuse victims of Doncaster. We thank everyone who has supported us so far, and everyone who is with us for this next phase.