£500k grant saves domestic violence charity from closure

A DOMESTIC violence charity has won three years of funding to continue its work.

Apna Haq was awarded £500,000 from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities fund.

The money will allow the service, previously Rotherham Borough Council’s preferred domestic violence charity until funding was pulled, to continue its work until 2020.

Chief executive Zlakha Ahmed, who won an MBE for her dedication to fighting domestic violence, said: “It’s amazing news because, after running this service for 22 years, if money hadn’t come we would have had to close.

“The amount we have been awarded will secure everyone’s jobs for three years, stabilise our work and allow us to reach even more women and children.

“It will also let us put into place lots of things we have always wanted but have never had the money for.

“We are the first stop for women suffering violence and abuse, so they can talk about these issues and we can support them out of the situation and make them stronger.”

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion called the award “fantastic news”, adding: “I have seen first hand the crucial work they do and their dedication to ending violence against women and girls.

“I hope this funding will allow them to go from strength to strength.”

The charity has already recruited childcare staff for mums attending their headquarters at the Unity Centre in Clifton and is planning a brand new website and more printed materials to improve users’ access to information.

The records of families they help - currently kept on paper - will be computerised.

Mrs Ahmed said she also hopes to reach more European women facing domestic violence in Rotherham and families suffering the fall-out of CSE convictions.

“It’s great to be in a position where our main work is funded, giving us the ability to look for other gaps in support and fill them,” she said.

“A lot of the mums we support have issues with their children being bullied at school - from within their community and from other communities.

“A lot of this is down to racism and that’s something we want to challenge.”

She added: “There’s an attitude that these women must have known what was going on, but most of this abuse happened long ago.”

The charity had help from Voluntary Action Rotherham in preparing its bid for the grant, which was awarded last December 12.

“Voluntary Action Rotherham have been integral in supporting us through the last six months,” Mrs Ahmed said.

“They saw so many people using our service and realised that, if we didn’t exist, those women wouldn’t get our support.

“This is a £500,000 investment in Rotherham and a huge relief.”