National domestic violence charity Refuge and Lambeth Council have held an event to celebrate the launch of the new Gaia Centre – an innovative service for victims of gender violence in the London borough of Lambeth.
Chief Executive of Refuge, Sandra Horley CBE, Jo Cleary,Executive Director Adults’ and Community Services, Lambeth Council, and Lynne Featherstone MP Parliamentary Under Secretary for Equalities and Criminal Information were among the speakers at the event.
The Gaia Centre is the first of its kind in the country. It provides practical and emotional support to victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, forced marriage, honour-based violence, female genital mutilation, prostitution, trafficking and stalking. The Gaia Centre supports men, women and children.
The Gaia Centre offers a range of services including: independent advocacy, for victims at high risk of serious injury or homicide; sanctuary provision, to help victims remain safely in their homes; specialist support for 14-16-year-old girls; and a befriending scheme which offers emotional and social support to survivors of gender violence.
The Gaia Centre was commissioned by Lambeth Council and is run by Refuge, the national domestic violence charity. Since it opened in January 2012 it has supported over 650 men and women, and 700 children.
The Gaia Centre was originally opened in Lambeth in 2006 as a one-stop shop for victims of domestic violence. The new model covers a much wider range of gender violence, recognising that there is often an overlap between different types of gender-based abuse. It is one of the first services of its kind to tackle gender violence in such an integrated way.
Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge, said:
“The Gaia Centre is a groundbreaking service. For the first time, all victims of gender violence can find life-saving and life-changing support under one roof. Whether you have experienced domestic violence or stalking – whether you have been forced into marriage, or trafficked into prostitution – the Gaia Centre can help you. We are proud to be working with Lambeth Council on this innovative project and truly believe that it will help make the borough of Lambeth a safer place for men, women and children.”
Cllr Reed, Leader of Lambeth Council, said:
“Tackling Violence against Women and Girls is a key priority for Lambeth. We are delighted that the Gaia Centre in Lambeth has been expanded. With Refuge running the centre it will be able to provide specialist support around all forms of gender based violence.
“We are extremely proud of the huge strides made in Lambeth to tackle violence against women and girls. The launch of this increased service is part of our ongoing commitment to tackle this key issue.”
Tackling Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) is a key priority for Lambeth and the council have delivered on a commitment to safeguard and increase VAWG funding.
In August 2011 Lambeth Council published its first ever VAWG strategy. The strategy is one the first in the country and was developed using the latest figures relating to prevalence of VAWG in Lambeth and a detailed research study which includes the innovative customer insight report exploring the views of victim-survivors in the borough.
For more information, please contact Helen Jones at Refuge: firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7395 7731
Refuge opened the world’s first safe house for abused women and children in Chiswick, West London in 1971. Since then it has grown to become the country’s largest provider of domestic violence services . On any given day Refuge supports 2,000 women and children through its network of life-changing and life-saving services. www.refuge.org.uk