A DOMESTIC abuse survivor has launched a petition to save a women’s refuge from closure in Bournemouth.

Users of Bournemouth Women’s Refuge have been given a 28-day eviction notice to vacate the safe house after BCP Council announced its closure.

The centre is operated by Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (BCHA) with support and funding from the council, and currently houses around 18 women and their children.

The council said the closure is expected in July and is in line with government guidance. Julie Dinmore who was “horrified” by the news has since set up an online petition against the decision.

“I decided to start the petition because I was horrified that such a provision for vulnerable women and their children would even be considered,” said Julie.

“There is a total lack of vision in this decision and I strongly disagree with the policy steering this decision.”

She said the refuge is “utterly vital” to protect these families and that “absorbing them into the community does not offer the safety they need.”

“As a victim of domestic abuse in the past I feel great compassion for the women and children,” said Julie.

The Change.org petition titled ‘Reject the Closure of Bournemouth's Only Women's Refuge’ has already reached almost 800 signatures.

Julie added: “I am delighted the petition is gaining support and I very much hope it will lead to the overturning of this very poor decision.”

Jenny Murray, a member of Women of Dorset, a group aiming to protect safeguard women, said she was alarmed at the decision and has written to the chief executive of BCP Council raising her concern about the closure.

Cllr Duane Farr said he was “completely taken by surprise” by the decision and was not aware of it being scrutinised at council.

“Cllr Cameron Adams and I have written to the chief executive to understand more about who made this decision and also how it was reached,” said Cllr Farr.

“This includes requesting the associated paperwork upon which the decision was based.

“We have also written to request any documentation which measures the impact upon those currently taking refuge within this home as well as those who are fleeing abuse and will require this support in the future.”

A spokesperson for BCP Council said: “We would like to reassure everyone that no woman or family will be made homeless as a result of the closure of Bournemouth Women’s Refuge.

“Nobody should have to experience domestic abuse, and BCP Council’s priority is to provide safe and appropriate accommodation and support to anyone in this situation.

“The decision to close the refuge has been very carefully considered and based on independent advice and evidence that shows the Bournemouth refuge isn’t suitable accommodation for women in need of support.

“The nature of the Bournemouth refuge building, and the lack of self-contained accommodation and communal indoor space make the refuge unsuitable to continue to provide safe accommodation.

“The Bournemouth refuge is just one part of a range of support and accommodation available, providing temporary accommodation, with the aim always to help residents move onto a safe longer-term housing solution.

"Its closure will not affect the overall service and women and their families will continue to be offered appropriate support, including housing in accommodation that is more suitable for their needs.

“Of the 18 families residing at the refuge, ten have already moved to alternative safe accommodation or have agreed dates for planned moves. The remaining eight families are being supported to move-on to alternative housing in the next seven weeks."