AN anonymous donation to West Cork Women Against Violence (WCWAV) means they can purchase the area’s first safe house for women and children fleeing domestic abuse.
The Bantry-based organisation marks its 20th anniversary this year and says this is the best gift they could ever have imagined.
The donation will allow WCWAV to purchase outright a four-to-five bedroomed house in a West Cork location close to a 24-hour garda station.
Last year, of the 181 clients which the service supported, 30 of those became homeless due to violence from intimate partners. Only three of those were able to be accommodated in Cork’s sole refuge in the city.
Co-ordinator of WCWAV, Marie Mulholland, said: ‘Back in 2016, WCWAV identified the need to obtain safe emergency accommodation as its major priority. Now, thanks to the generosity of a single anonymous donor aligned to the Community Foundation for Ireland – which has a track record of supporting small organisations working with vulnerable people – WCWAV are about to reach the goal they set themselves just three years ago.’
There were fears that the country’s homelessness crisis would not augur well for WCWAV’s chances of getting a safe house.
‘Nevertheless, we continued to research and develop ideas and plans for such a project. This work was the basis of the proposal put to the Community Foundation for Ireland and led to our success in obtaining the significant funds on offer,’ explained Marie.
She says the sense of relief is ‘palpable’ now.
‘This is real hope for women living in fear and despair, afraid they have no other option but to remain with an abuser. There is still much more to do to make the safe house a reality. We have enough funds to buy a house, now we need to equip, maintain and run it over the next few years.’
A new WCWAV staff member is to be recruited to work with women using the safe house which will be equipped with panic buttons, CCTV, reinforced doors, and check-in by phone from WCWAV and a direct line alert to the garda station.