'Help us save our centre'

Dismay in Tralee as Women's Resource Centre to close

Simon Brouder

There is widespread shock and dismay in Tralee following the sudden news that the Tralee Women's Resource Centre is to close in the next six weeks.

The drop-in centre - which provides many services including help for victims of domestic violence, advice for women with crisis pregnancies and assistance for women in Direct Provision - was founded in 1986 and moved from Ashe Street to Áras an Phobail in 2014.

Last Thursday, centre users and clients were stunned to find out that the board of the HSE and Tusla-funded service had decided to shut it down.

Women from all over Tralee have now rallied in a bid to keep the centre open.

A group campaigning under the banner 'Save Our Women's Resource Centre' (SOWRC) already has over 50 members, and by Wednesday afternoon over 500 people - including many men - had signed an online petition seeking to keep the centre open. On Wednesday morning a group of 30 women staged a demonstration outside the centre to protest its closure.

Shahidah Janjua - who is one of the leaders of the SOWRC campaign - said news of the centre's closure had taken people completely by surprise.

"We were all shocked and stunned when we heard. There hadn't been a murmur about it beforehand," she said.

"We've been told that the centre is closing because its services are duplicated elsewhere, but there are no other dedicated services for women anywhere else," said Shahidah.

"There are services like Adapt (the women's refuge) and the rape crisis centre, but they are designed to help women who are at a particular stage and who are at a point where they need a different level of help. As it is, those services are already overwhelmed," she said.

"The loss of the Women's Resource Centre is incalculable, and it will be keenly felt by countless women," she added.

The board of the TWRC have not made an official comment on the closure. It has been reported that the decision was taken following a review of the centre's operations, based on which the board decided the centre was no longer as relevant as it previously was and was no longer in a position to continue.

As The Kerryman went to print the TWRC board had not responded to a request for comment.