Funds needed for specialist refuge

Indira Das-Gupta

The Nia Project in Hackney, east London, is seeking funding to set up the UK's first specialist refuge for women fleeing domestic violence who are also substance abusers.

Marai Larasi, executive director of the Nia Project, formerly known as Hackney Women's Aid, says that most refuges do not have the capacity or the expertise to help abused women who have substance abuse problems. However, about 70 per cent of the women she sees have drug or alcohol issues.

"We come across at least one woman a day who has some kind of problem connected to substance use," she said.

"Many women do not even admit to it at first because they are afraid of being excluded or think their children will be taken away. Unlike most refuges, we try to take in those we can, but we don't have the staff to cope with those with problems at the more chaotic end of the spectrum."

The Nia Project hopes to secure funding for up to 10 beds in a specialist refuge.

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