Management at ADAPT Kerry Women’s Refuge say they require a suitable site in Tralee on which to build a larger refuge as they are having to turn women and children away due to a shortage of space.
Management at ADAPT Kerry Women’s Refuge is to enter negotiations with Kerry County Council in the hope of obtaining a new site in Tralee on which to build a larger women’s refuge.
ADAPT Kerry Manager Catherine Casey said the current refuge located at Killeen Road is no longer capable of accommodating women looking to escape domestic violence, as they are being turned away due to a lack of space.
Ms Casey explained how in the first three months of 2022, ADAPT Kerry Women’s Refuge handled 37 requests from women experiencing domestic violence and coercive control, but only 15 women and their children could be accommodated.
Also during this time a woman phoned the refuge on four occasions seeking shelter, but was refused as the refuge was full.
It was only at the fifth time of asking that the woman was finally accommodated. This is causing serious concern among staff who say requests for shelter are increasing.
During Christmas 2020, 11 requests for emergency accommodation were received by ADAPT between December 20 and January 2. Only three of the requests were facilitated.
Ms Casey told The Kerryman that women unable to secure accommodation with ADAPT are immediately put in touch with its Outreach Service.
However, others are being forced to find lodgings in a refuge outside of Kerry. Staying with friends or family, remaining in the home, or presenting to homeless services.
“I would like to think we have enough evidence to show the need there is for a site. The Council have always had an open ear to us and have always been very supportive. We can definitely prove the need for more space,” said Ms Casey.
“There is a need there. I think since COVID, people are now more aware and understanding of the issue of domestic violence and coercive control. I think the political willingness is there and we would be very hopeful,” she added.
Ms Casey explained that prior to COVID, plans for an additional 3-unit extension – with improved childcare space, offices and storage facilities – had been discussed. This would have increased the refuge to nine units in total.
But because of rising demand, it’s now felt that a refuge double its current capacity is needed to prevent more women and families from being turned away.
ADAPT Kerry Women’s Refuge sits on a .75-acre site that was given to them by Kerry County Council in the mid-1990s. ADAPT say a new site would need to be 1.25 acres in a central location within Tralee town.
“The best option for us at this stage is a new site. Wexford Women’s refuge recently secured planning for a 12-unit refuge. Wexford County Council provided them with a 4-acre site,” said Ms Casey.
“I think because we are established in Tralee for the past 26-years, and we are close to rail and bus services, it would be good to maintain these services by staying in Tralee,” she said.
"The advocacy we do would also be with agencies that are based in Tralee. Schools in the town have also been very helpful. I think with the network of support that we’ve built up, it would be good to be able to stay in Tralee.”
Cllr Michael O’Shea (FF) raised the matter at a recent full meeting of Kerry County Council. Cllr O’Shea urged the Council to engage with ADAPT Kerry as a matter of urgency.
“They [ADAPT] provide an invaluable service in the county, helping women and families,” he said.
"The current location is no longer capable of handling the pressure they are going through. I would urge the executive of this Council to engage with them,” Cllr O’Shea added.