Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland

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2000….Looking to the future 

With the start of the 1990's Women's Aid still firmly held onto the priority of the needs of women and children coming to refuges, a particular feature of Women's Aid in Northern Ireland has been a deep commitment to a high standard of refuge accommodation which can provide a safe and positive environment for women and children.  This has been made possible firstly through the housing associations which purchase and renovate or build suitable properties.  Secondly, permanent funding enables Women's Aid to employ committed and experienced staff who can offer a professional and caring service to women and children. 

The political situation in Northern Ireland has implications for those concerned with responding to domestic violence.  The sectarian nature of the violence has sometimes limited the availability and response of police officers in certain areas and it can also restrict a woman's choice about involving the police to protect her.  However, the service provided is by Women’s Aid is used by all communities as well as urban and rural communities.   

In future years, the issue for Women's Aid will be to develop mechanisms which lie outside refuge support systems.  The Women's Aid movement is still developing, but we need to assist and encourage other agencies to develop positive responses to domestic violence.  The recent guidelines issued by police forces throughout the United Kingdom are an encouraging sign. 

Whilst the availability of Women's Aid refuges in Northern Ireland in the last 16 years has provided a powerful catalyst in challenging male violence within the home, refuges on their own provide only part of the solution.  Responding to domestic violence is about addressing the needs of women and children who are at a crisis point in their lives; it is also about addressing the actions of those who use violence against their partners.  Meeting these challenges will require clear policies, a multi-agency approach and a commitment to bring about change.  There is greater awareness than ever before of the need for a coordinated response to be made. 

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Contact Us:  129 University Street Belfast. BT7 1HP  Tel:(028) 90 249041 Fax:(028) 90 239296  
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