Shadow Minister: Shelter Is ‘Stop Gap Measure’

October 2, 2014

“Government’s announcement of a temporary shelter for victims of domestic violence is a stop gap measure that doesn’t address the real issue; the challenges of Bermuda’s most vulnerable,” said Shadow Minister for Community, Cultural Development & Sports Michael Weeks.

Mr. Weeks said, “The news of this facility is welcome, but the OBA must ensure that it is safe and has adequate resources to do the job it is intended to do.

“The Minister should provide the public with answers to the following questions:

  • 1] Will the staffing levels for the previous shelter be maintained?
  • 2] Will the same level of security be provided?
  • 3] What is the timeline for establishing a permanent solution?

“Stop gap measures are sometimes a necessity, however when it comes to the safety of Bermudians, every precaution must be taken.”

Mr. Weeks was speaking after Minister of Community, Culture and Sports Wayne Scott announced that the Government has located a secure facility which will be used immediately as a temporary shelter.

Minister Scott said, “As you will be aware, there has been much said in the media recently about the closure of the safe house operated by the Centre Against Abuse.

“I am very pleased to inform you that Government has located a secure facility which will be used immediately as a temporary shelter for those who find themselves in need of emergency support due to domestic violence.

“In the short period since the closure of the shelter operated by the Centre Against Abuse, the Government has not been made aware of any emergency situations requiring the use of a safe house.

“The shelter that has been identified represents only a short-term solution, but will allow Government the time needed to continue to work with various stakeholders – including the Centre Against Abuse and the Women’s Resource Centre – to identify a sustainable long-term solution,” added the Minister.

On a separate, but related note, the Centre Against Abuse [CAA] also responded to the Minister’s statement, with the Board of Trustees for the CAA saying, “We are grateful to the Minister of Community, Culture and Sports Wayne Scott for his efforts on behalf of CAA.

“There has been a story focusing on our payroll costs in The Royal Gazette’s Monday edition in a story that has been repeated in other local media. CAA provides essential and free services for the victims of domestic abuse.

“CAA provide these services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We do it with four full time employees and four part-time employees. Furthermore, because CAA staff are professionals in their field of expertise who carry out their services on a 24 hours a day, seven days a week basis, their salaries consume a significant portion of our annual budget.

“CAA has provided safe housing for women and their children escaping domestic abuse for 30 of the 35 years the charity has been in operation. During those years, we have not lost a single survivor of domestic violence while they have been in our care.  Unfortunately, during that period, Bermuda has seen close to 30 individuals lose their lives to the scourge of domestic violence.

“While we are grateful to Minister Scott for offering a temporary new shelter, CAA is the owner of a purpose built safe house – there for the protection of those members of Bermuda’s community who require it.

“The expense of operating this facility during this economically difficult period has led to its temporary closure – not the lack of a facility. What is required is some financial help to keep our safe house open while we work towards a viable and sustainable solution to our financial shortfall.

“Centre Against Abuse has been having ongoing informal talks with other like charities for over a year.  Our interest is to decrease our costs, share like services, and maintain the confidentiality of our clients, and provide them with the continued support they require.

“Our safe house, which we purchased and opened in 2000, while vital to our community, represents just a portion of the services that we provide, and continue to provide, as we strive to end domestic violence and abuse in Bermuda.

“CAA offers in-office counselling and rehabilitative services for abusers as well as victims, legal and court advocacy, and 24 hour hotlines. Additionally, we present awareness and prevention sessions to schools, churches, prisons, youth groups, workmen’s clubs and sports clubs, and businesses.

“We also make these services available to the Police and to health care professionals – those people who are the first responders to these extremely volatile incidences.

“The Police receive approximately 75 call-outs each month for domestic disputes – and many of those individuals involved in disputes are asked to contact CAA for assistance. We are thankful to the Bermuda Police Service for all they do to keep safe our clients, and our staff.

“While CAA is not listed as an essential service, the services we provide are essential in our community; they are offered by individuals who are trained in Domestic Violence Prevention and Awareness and are certified in Batterers Intervention.

“The expenses of CAA are about half those of the average charity of our size in Bermuda. Further, because we have worked hard to pare our expenses during the years of economic down-turn, because our staff are professionals in their field of expertise, because we own and operate our own safe house, and receive many ‘in-kind’ services from our donors, it makes sense that our overall expenses are less, while our greatest expense is salaries.

“The United Kingdom, the US and many other countries, both developed and underdeveloped, have governments which contribute meaningfully towards ending domestic abuse, directly through acts of parliament, policies, mandates, educational and counselling programmes, public awareness campaigns as well as Government departments which specifically focus on these issues.

“In addition, other governments often provide substantial grants to the charities who work to end domestic abuse. In Bermuda, CAA currently receives 15 per cent of our budget from our government grant, and we raise over 85 per cent of our funding through fundraisers and donations.

“October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and CAA asks the community to remember that the fact remains that domestic violence is a serious social ill that leads to other social ills within our community. In order to diminish and end domestic violence in Bermuda, CAA needs the full support of our Government in addition to the community support that we receive.

“The staff and board members of CAA are eternally grateful to those members of the public and to those community-minded businesses and corporate entities that have continually assisted us over the years, and for the support we have received from them since the closure of our shelter was announced.

“We are also grateful to those many members of the community who have signed the petition that is circulating asking the Government to allocate funds to support the work that we do towards the fulfilment of our mission.

“Anyone who wishes to make a donation to CAA can do so by going to www.centreagainstabuse.bm Please remember that if you wish to make a donation to check your employer’s policies as many will match employee donations.”

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Comments (10)

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  1. Jeremy Deacon says:

    Charities are hurting because of years of problems, not just from the last 18 months. http://jeremydeacon.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/why-leave-it-to-charity/

    • That's What Charity Is For says:

      Why leave it to charity? Because our government is broke, that’s why. Ask Moody’s and Fitch.

  2. swing voter says:

    I get shivers when thinking what kind of solution would have been found and at what price….5 yrs ago….. no politics, just a high probability of cost over-runs and finger pointing that were frequent trending facts during that time 2007 – 2012

  3. Onion says:

    So the charity didn’t do any fundraising until things were critical and now the PLP are trying to pin the blame elsewhere.

    Meanwhile the PLP is pointing out that they can read and understand that the word “temporary” is a synonym for “stop-gap”. At least this time the PLP read some of the press release before responding. If they’d read the whole thing they’d see that the government is working with the several different charities that duplicate efforts to bring them together to provide a sustainable permanent solution.

  4. aceboy says:

    Just stay quiet Weeks…you and your mates are the reason everyone is hurting now. That INCLUDES this charity….you probably have no idea how much funding was provided by the ex-pats who were here working that you lot chased away.

    • James Rego says:

      If Mr. Weeks hadn’t wasted our money on Grand Atlantic, our Government would at lease have some cash to help others. Why can’t they understand, we are broke!

      • I quote an old friend who had said just recently the following: “All these promotional entities are not helping, only promoting themselves.C.A.D.A.The Abuse Centre and The Bermuda Road safety Council only get funds that the directors etc. spend on themselves. If none of the aforementioned existed,the stats they put out would be no different.C.A.D.A. does not dissuade drunk driving. The Road Safety council does not stop abuses on the road and the Abuse Centre does not stop abuse. GOOD POLICE ENFORCEMENT DOES!”

  5. Terry says:

    Spot on Swing.

  6. Unbelievable says:

    Check the PLP re-writing history again.

  7. Moonbeam says:

    What else would we expect from the (negative) PLP ?

    They need to stop complaining and start assisting !