A new refuge for women and children suffering from domestic violence and abuse has opened in Ballymena.
The new £474,000 development has been provided by Ulidia Housing Association, supported by the Department for Social Development, and will be managed on a day to day basis by Women’s Aid.
The new facility was officially opened by Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey, said he was delighted to be opening what he described as “a safe home for some of the most vulnerable people in society”.
“We all want to live in a society where domestic violence and abuse is not tolerated, and where home is a place of safety. Unfortunately however, that is often not the reality,” Mr Storey said.
He added: “This new self contained accommodation is an important addition to the refuge network in Northern Ireland.
“These new homes will provide respite in a safe and secure environment, and will give women and their children time and space to help them move forward to better and happier times.
“I commend all those involved for bringing this important scheme to fruition.”
The new refuge provides a total of six, one and two bedroom apartments where vulnerable women and children can be accommodated in their own self contained family living environment.
It means in particular that older male children can remain with their mother.
Mary Lowe, Accommodation Services Manager at Women’s Aid ABCLN, said: “Women’s Aid is truly delighted to be able to offer choice to women and their children.
“In the words of the first service user to reside at the complex, “I would not have been able to leave my abusive husband before because my son is 17 and we had nowhere else to go until now”.
“I would like to thank our partners for working with us to make this happen - the Department for Social Development, Ulidia Housing Association and the Housing Executive’s Supporting People Team.”
Paddy Brannigan, Vice Chair of Ulidia Housing Association, said: “The Association is delighted to complete the purchase of the apartment block in Ballymena.
“The accommodation complements the existing refuge facility in Ballymena provided by Ulidia and managed by ABCLN Women’s Aid.
“On behalf of Ulidia, I welcome the residents and wish them every success in their new homes. I thank the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Department for Social Development for their support and also welcome this opportunity to acknowledge the partnership working of ABCLN Women’s Aid in the successful provision of this project.”