Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA, has officially opened a new refuge for women and children suffering from domestic violence and abuse in Ballymena.
The new £474,000 development has been provided by Ulidia Housing Association, supported by the Department for Social Development. The facility is managed on a day to day basis by Women’s Aid.
The new refuge provides a total of six, one and two bedroom apartments where vulnerable women and children can be accommodated in their own self contained family living environment. It means in particular that older male children can remain with their mother.
Speaking at the opening of the new refuge Minister Storey said: “I am delighted to be here today to open what will be a safe home for some of the most vulnerable people in society.
“We all want to live in a society where domestic violence and abuse is not tolerated, and where home is a place of safety. Unfortunately however, that is often not the reality.
“This new self contained accommodation is an important addition to the refuge network in Northern Ireland. These new homes will provide respite in a safe and secure environment, and will give women and their children time and space to help them move forward to better and happier times. I commend all those involved for bringing this important scheme to fruition.”
Paddy Brannigan, Vice Chair of Ulidia Housing Association welcomed the Minister to the scheme and thanked him for his support.
He said: “The Association is delighted to complete the purchase of the apartment block in Ballymena. The accommodation complements the existing refuge facility in Ballymena provided by Ulidia and managed by ABCLN Women’s Aid. On behalf of Ulidia, I welcome the residents and wish them every success in their new homes. I thank the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Department for Social Development for their support and also welcome this opportunity to acknowledge the partnership working of ABCLN Women’s Aid in the successful provision of this project.”
Mary Lowe, Accommodation Services Manager at Women’s Aid ABCLN, said: “Women’s Aid is truly delighted to be able to offer choice to women and their children. In the words of the first service user to reside at the complex, "I would not have been able to leave my abusive husband before because my son is 17 and we had nowhere else to go until now”.
“I would like to thank our partners for working with us to make this happen - the Department for Social Development, Ulidia Housing Association and the Housing Executive’s Supporting People Team.”
Notes to editors:
- The scheme cost £474,000, with the Department for Social Development funding £410,000 in grant through the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Ulidia Housing Association contributing £64,000 through private borrowing
- Day to day management is provided by Women’s Aid Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey (ABCLN)
- The scheme mix comprises:
• 4 x 4 person, 2 bedroom apartments
• 2 x 2 person, 1 bedroom apartments
- Photos can be viewed later on the DSD Flickr page
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