Domestic abuse occurs across social classes, ethnic groups and age demographics. In Ireland, 79% of women experiencing domestic abuse do not report it, while only 8-12% of women who need domestic abuse support service access them. In 2014, Safe Ireland reported that every day 14 requests for accommodation could not be met in Ireland. That same year Teach Tearmainn opened a refuge in Co. Kildare which provides emergency accommodation units for women and their children seeking to escape situations of domestic violence or abuse. Due to funding constraints, however, Teach Tearmainn operated the refuge on an office-hours basis, with only on-call support overnight. Due to health and safety concerns, this model was not sustainable. To meet the demand for its services, Teach Tearmainn would need to seek funding to move to a 24-hour refuge model. At the same time, the organisation identified the need to relieve pressure on its refuge facilities, which were at the time overused and serving multiple purposes: additional space would need to be found.
Another key issue identified by Teach Tearmainn was an absence of a Court Accompaniment service for victims of domestic abuse attending court proceedings, as well as an acute shortage of residential units for women and their children seeking non-emergency, longer-term accommodation after leaving an abusive situation.
Overall, with ever-increasing demands on its limited resources, Teach Tearmainn needed a step change in its approach to funding and the organisation’s structure, in order to enable an expansion of services as well as a move to a 24-hour refuge model.