Ice bucket challenge to save Centre Against Abuse
Donations have been pouring in from kind-hearted residents trying to help to save Bermuda’s cash-strapped Centre Against Abuse.
Concerned citizens have been stepping up to assist the much-loved resource — and are now calling on people across the Island to sign a petition asking Government for help.
The charity has been forced to shut its shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence — the only such facility on the Island.
Executive director Laurie Shiell and board chairwoman Lorna Dixon-Marable told The Royal Gazette last week that the Centre itself may also have to close unless they raised desperately needed funds.
Generous residents have since come forward to help out, with one putting a spin on the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and law firm Canterbury giving money.
Canterbury’s director is also planning to personally donate thousands to help to reopen the shelter — in memory of her mother, a victim of domestic abuse — and is helping to create and distribute an online petition calling on Government to support the Centre.
Jennifer Attride-Stirling, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Health Council, took the Ice Bucket Challenge at the weekend but donated the money to the Centre instead of ALS.
She said that while the ALS cause was very worthwhile — more than $88.5 million has been raised so far, according to the ALS Association — she wanted to help a local charity in need.
“The point is to raise public awareness,” Dr Attride-Stirling said yesterday. “The closure of the shelter is tragic.”
The Centre, which has been open for 35 years, is now calling on other residents doing the Ice Bucket Challenge to donate the funds to them.
“Thank you to Jennifer Attride-Stirling who put a spin on the Ice Bucket Challenge,” Ms Shiell said. “Instead of doing this for ALS, she did it for the Centre Against Abuse.
“This is something that we’d like all residents to do. Will you take up the challenge to help raise funds for the only safe house and the only organisation providing services to end domestic abuse in Bermuda?
“So often it’s so easy for us to join any old bandwagon when it’s a fun, cool thing to do, but the Centre Against Abuse encourages those of you who did it for ALS to do it for us, and those of you who have not done it, start now with us.
“We challenge Bermuda to raise $500,000 through the Ice Bucket Challenge to support Centre Against Abuse’s work in providing services to help those involved in domestic violence and to provide prevention training to the community to raise awareness.
“Help us to help you, to end domestic abuse.”
The team at Canterbury Law also donated $1,000 to the Centre yesterday, with the same amount going to the Hands of Love Ministry’s efforts to donate school uniforms to needy families.
Canterbury director Juliana Snelling said she was “appalled that Bermuda’s only shelter for victims of domestic abuse was forced to close”.
“For years the shelter has housed 24 abuse victims at any one time, offering counselling and protection to them and their children. Last year the charity helped more than 120 abused women and the safe house offered shelter to 31 women and children.
“Now that the shelter has closed, battered victims have nowhere to go — this cannot seriously be happening in modern-day Bermuda where one out of eight adults, including men, has experienced physical abuse from their partner.
“My mother was one such person and it broke my heart to see it happen as a child. As much as I adored my father, he was an alcoholic and my brother and I lived in fear as young children that our mother would be harmed when he was drinking. I share this difficult story to stress that this is a pervasive social ill on our Island that is not talked about but it affects us all or those we love.
“The state of the economy not withstanding, it is a tragedy that Government has reduced its funding in recent years from $100,000 to $75,000. I believe the Government should view the reopening of the shelter as its public duty.
“The Government has a social duty to protect its women from physical harm. I ask everyone to join me in calling on the Government to, at the very least, restore the Centre’s previous funding to $100,000.”
Ms Snelling said she would be joining the Centre in creating an online petition urging the Government to save the shelter “as a matter of urgency”.
“Please take a minute to sign the petition and forward it on to friends and colleagues when it crosses your inbox,” she said. “If you don’t have internet, stop in at Canterbury Law on the first floor of the Swan Building to sign the petition on paper.
“The Government aside, we can all help to save the shelter — our new beautiful hospital is testament to what a partnership between the public sector and the people/organisations in Bermuda can achieve when they join hands with a common mission.
“Saving the shelter must be our common mission — without this service we are putting our community at further risk.”
The Centre said it had an overall budget of $500,000 to provide its range of services to women and men. Of this sum, they said it cost about $160,000 to run the shelter each year — a little less than $7,000 per bed each year.
They also provide a 24-hour hotline for victims and a 24-hour men’s crisis line, counselling and advocacy, court advocacy, a batterers’ intervention programme, resettlement help for survivors of abuse, and community-geared awareness and education sessions.
“If we can find just 24 individuals or companies — or groups of people/companies — to each give $7,000 we can save the shelter,” Ms Snelling said. “My family is going to be one such group, giving $7,000 to reopen a bed in my mother’s memory.
“Please join the Centre in giving — any little bit counts.”
Ms Snelling also encouraged residents to attend a ‘Save the Shelter’ gathering being planned for East Broadway on Tuesday, September 30.
Be there by 7.45am, ending at 8.30am to get to work,” she said. “Bring a ‘save the shelter’ sign to show you care.”
If you wish to donate to the Centre Against Abuse, funds can be transferred to their HSBC account, account number 010-284636-001.
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