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Tourism season is putting ‘safe houses’ under more pressure

Thursday, 12th July, 2018 11:50am

Story by Emma Connolly
Tourism season is putting ‘safe houses’ under more pressure

West Cork B&Bs that normally provide refuge are busy in the summertime. (Photo: Shutterstock)

THE need for dedicated safe housing for victims of domestic violence becomes even greater at this time of the year. 

That’s according to Marie Mulholland, coordinator at West Cork Women Against Violence, who described peak tourism season as a ‘nightmare’ for finding emergency accommodation for domestic violence victims due to reduced B&B availability. 

‘We are so lucky as lots of B&Bs give us greatly discounted rates during the year; but this is their most profitable time of the year and they have to make their living,’ she said as they published their 2017 annual report. 

That’s why she said the provision of safe housing is so urgently needed and is what they’re using the €86,000 donation made last year from the Mary Daly Fund for. 

Mary was the first wife of American, Charles U Daly whose love of Bantry saw them establish a holiday home here many years ago. After her death, her family set up a small charitable fund in her name. In 2017, having assisted a number of Bantry charities, it was decided to close the fund and to distribute the remaining capital to a worthy cause in the area which saw €86,000 going to WCWAV.  

Maria explained how Charles advised them not to spend the donation on ‘bricks and mortar’ so instead they are ring fencing it to equip and run a safe house. 

Currently researching other such models, they hope to have entered into a partnership with another agency in two years time. 

‘The donation means we can breathe and really hold our heads above water,’ said Maria. 

The donation also enabled WCWAV to  pilot a hugely successful programme entitled ‘From Surving to Thriving’ to support women who are parenting alone having left a violent situation.  

Some 181 women contacted the service in 2017, comprising 151 new clients. 

‘That compares to 204 the previous year which broke down as 173 new clients. However, while the numbers are slightly down, the complexity of cases is increasing,’ said Maria outlining how one recent case involved 16 different agencies. 

‘Anther interesting finding in the annual report is that 27 family and friends contacted us about someone they were concerned with which is a very positive sign and possibly as a result of the recent national advertising campaign which asked “what can I do?”

‘We then support them to support the victim to get them to a point where they can ring us themselves.’