Harrow Women's Centre fears for future

Harrow Times: Woman's centre fears for future Woman's centre fears for future

A "unique and trusted" centre which helps woman across the borough is “in crisis” as staff fear money could soon run out.

Harrow Women’s Centre, in Andrews Close, Harrow, lost its funding of £68,000 from Harrow Borough Council from April this year.

The centre, which is run by a small staff with a large volunteer base, aims to relieve women of Harrow in conditions of need or distress with support.

But without money to keep it open, managers fear closure could affect thousands across the borough.

Centre co-ordinator Ruth Hiscock said: “We are in crisis at the moment, we just don’t know how long we will be able to stay open.

“The closure of the centre would have a devastating effect on the women of the borough because there is no other organisation specifically for women in Harrow that provides the wide range of services we do.

“More women are coming to us for help and if we get 1,000 women coming to us then there could be more than 3,000 family members who may also be affected.”

The centre offers advice on legal rights, employment, child care, welfare reform, financial matters and discrimination and also offers counselling and advice groups.

The Big Society Funding Community Interest Company carried out an independent impact assessment report to highlight the work of the centre.

It said: “The centre meets identified needs, providing a safe and welcoming environment. Whilst there is a high number of beneficiaries quality isn’t compromised, and its client base mirrors closely the ethnic diversity pertaining to the locality.

“As a one-stop-shop service provider for women the centre is unique. It is a trusted and efficacious information and advice provider.

"It remains very mission focused – it does what it says on the tin.

It adds: “With the very limited budget and resources the charity actually has at its disposal, it is doing and performing as well as anyone could possibly expect.

"There is absolutely no question of it not being value for money.”

The report says Harrow Borough Council “must examine how it can better help the charity transition to the new funding environment – possibly with a one off financial contribution to enable Harrow Woman's Centre to submit a significant Big Lottery application.”

The Harrow Times has contacted Harrow Council about the centre and is awaiting a reply.

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