*Following this letter being sent, the application window was extended*

Baroness Diana Barran

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

100 Parliament Street



Friday 8th May 2020

Dear Baroness Barran,

We would like to draw your attention to the management of the call for funding for domestic abuse. 

The Government has come under heavy criticism from the charity sector over the last month for demonstrating a severe lack of understanding of both the critical role we play in supporting the most disadvantaged communities and the diversity of that provision.

On Thursday 7th May, at 5.49pm the government opened a call for applications for funding for refuge space. The deadline for the submission of completed applications is 14th May. Seven days (over a bank holiday weekend) is simply not long enough for quality applications to be organised and submitted.

This announcement only compounds a growing sense of frustration, dismay and disbelief at the management of the promise of funding. As a wider sector we remain concerned that this sets a dangerous precedent for how the Government manages its commitment to funding charities.

For charities working on domestic abuse and violence against women and girls, refuges have been a critical part of women’s specialist charities work for 50 years. They have been built on the sweat and lifelong commitment of women who are very often survivors of male violence themselves. Refuges and the charities that run them are rooted in local communities, led by those they serve and are already operating on shoestring budgets, as a result of austerity and still providing life saving services.

The coronavirus pandemic is stretching refuges to breaking point, risking the safety and lives of millions of women and their children. WRC research across 300 women’s charities has revealed that almost 70% are worried about surviving the crisis.

We know that the smallest charities can not afford the professional fundraisers that the larger ones can and constantly miss out on getting the money they desperately need.

The government has an opportunity to change the dismal track record on ensuring funds for specialist work with women goes to where it is most needed.  For example, of the Tampon Tax Fund promised to ‘women’s health and support charities’ in 2015, the vast majority went to generalist larger charities.  The current, inappropriately short timeframe only compounds the failings of the past.  You have an opportunity to do things differently.

We are gravely concerned that this 7 day turnaround for applications will favour larger charities and exclude the small but vital refuge providers and further compound the exclusion of BME specialist charities, who according to recent research by Ubele are the most likely to close over the coming months.

We would ask for

  • An extension of the 7 day deadline
  • A meeting with the you to hear our concerns about the needs of the women’s sector, explore alternative distribution models that would aid government in its efforts to address structural inequality and improve the efficiency of the funding pot
  • Assurances that government will build into their allocation, principles of equity and fairness so that women and children get the services they say works for them.

We respectfully request a reply by Monday 11th May 2020 at noon.


Yours Sincerely,

Vivienne Hayes MBE, CEO Women’s Resource Centre.

In support:

ACEVO – Vicky Browning

Ashiana Network - Shaminder Ubhi  

Asian Women’s Resource Centre - Sarbjit Ganger

Association of Charitable Organisations - Donal Watkin

Charity Comms – Adeela Warley

Charity Finance Group - Caron Bradshaw

Charity Retail Association – Robin Osterley

Children England – Kathy Evans

Directory of Social Change - Debra Allcock Tyler

End Violence Against Women Coalition - Sarah Green

Imkaan – Baljit Banga

Institute of Fundraising – Peter Lewis

Juno Women's Aid (Nottingham City and South Nottinghamshire) - Yasmin Rehman

LGBT Consortium - Paul Roberts OBE

Lloyds Bank Foundation – Duncan Shrubsole

Locality – Tony Armstrong

London Black Women’s Project - Rena Sodhi, Interim Director

National Association for Voluntary Action (NAVCA) – Jane Ide

Rape Crisis England & Wales – Dr Quinn

Safety4Sisters North West - Sandhya Sharma

Small Charities Coalition – Rita Chadha

Social Enterprise UK – Peter Holbrook CBE

Voice4Change England – Kunle Olulode

Women’s Aid Federation of England - Nicki Norman