The Coalition against Domestic Violence (CADV) has welcomed the budgetary allocation for the establishment and functioning of centres for women who are homeless for a number of reasons including those especially affected by domestic violence, but it believes there is a lot more to be done.
The measure was one of many announced by Minister of Finance Colm Imbert when he presented the national budget on Monday.
In welcoming the initiative the coalition said it is aware that many people especially women, stay in violent and insecure situations because they do not have anywhere to go, especially when they have children. It noted that shelters serve as temporary safe spaces where women can stabilise, regroup emotionally and plan their next steps.
In a release to the Media CADV president Roberta Clarke observed that all of the shelters currently open were pioneered by committed individuals and organisations wanting to provide practical and immediate support for women and their children in crisis.
She observed that in over the 33 years since the Business and Professional Women’s Club South Trinidad opened the first shelter under the chair of Radhica Saith, at least eight other shelters were opened across T&T.
These homes were meant to meet the accommodation, psychological and material needs of those affected by domestic violence and have been the commitment of the NGO sector.
But Clarke noted that some shelters receive minimal subventions from the government but never enough to meet the running costs of a shelter.
Because of these challenges she said, at least three shelters have this year alone had to consider whether they can remain open to those in need.
The coalition president, however, said that this is a reversible state of affairs.
Clarke said while the coalition lauds the initiative of the proposed state-run shelters, “there is also need for consistent and adequate investments in NGOs, which are already operating shelters.”
This includes, she said, expediting applications for subventions by NGOs providing services. In addition, the coalition is advocating that NGOs should receive support for staffing and periodic infrastructural maintenance.
Clarke is of the view that a few government-run centres will not be sufficient.
We know that over 8,000 people seek protection orders annually. Rather than allow existing shelters to close, it would be more effective to include them as beneficiaries of the intended budgetary allocation,” the Clarke noted.
She said shelters need to be available across T&T.