Refuge for Latin American women under threat after Islington Council withdraws funding

Gabriela Quevedo, second from left, with staff and volunteers of LAWA

Gabriela Quevedo, second from left, with staff and volunteers of LAWA - Credit: Archant

A charity which has protected thousands of vulnerable women and children over the past 27 years is under threat after losing funding from Islington Council.

Latin American Women’s Aid (LAWA) helps victims of domestic violence and abuse from Central and South America as well as other black and ethnic minority backgrounds, who may not feel able to contact mainstream sources due to language and cultural barriers.

The charity had received £80,000 a year from the town hall, but despite recognising Latin Americans as an ethnic group last month, Islington Council has told LAWA it will not receive the grant this year.

Gabriela Quevedo, a trustee, said: “We provide culturally sensitive support, which is important with domestic violence as women feel more at ease speaking to someone in their own language and who understands their culture.

“Without a specialist service like ours a lot of these women, many of whom have young children, might not be picked up by mainstream services.”

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LAWA runs a refuge at a confidential location in the borough as well as putting on workshops for women and children and offering advice.

Testimonials from women helped by LAWA on its website tell how the charity saved their lives, with one Brazilian woman saying she would have committed suicide if it wasn’t for the help it gave her.

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A petition to save the funding has already attracted about 400 signatures.

Cllr Janet Burgess, executive member for health and wellbeing, said the council would continue to support Solace Women’s Aid in the borough with £205,000 a year.

She said: “We must make sure our resources are targeted to have the most impact for Islington residents, especially at a time of big government cuts, when many councils have cut domestic violence services completely.

“No Islington residents are currently supported in LAWA’s refuge. It provides national support and should be supported nationally, for example through the London Councils’ Grants programme to which we contribute.”

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