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Project fears it may lose contract to run refuges in the borough for women

PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:23 11 July 2019

Campaigners for the London Black Women's Project said that they will continue to fight for the survival of the refuges. Picture: Vicki Couchman.

Campaigners for the London Black Women's Project said that they will continue to fight for the survival of the refuges. Picture: Vicki Couchman.

Vicki Couchman

A protest has taken place outside Newham Council's main offices in Beckton by campaigners that fear a project that runs refuges in the borough could lose its contract.

After 32 years London Black Women's Project refuges have been decommissioned by Newham Council.


 Picture: Vicki Couchman.After 32 years London Black Women's Project refuges have been decommissioned by Newham Council. Picture: Vicki Couchman.

The London Black Women's Project (LBWP) has concerns that it could lose the funding it needs to run four shelters if they are not re-commissioned by the council.

LBWP has helped vulnerable women for the last 32 years and the refuges it runs providing 52 beds in total across east London.

LBWP say is could lose the contract despite cutting around £24,000 from what it was willing to charge the council for its services - around 18 per cent of the previous costs.

If they lose the funding another organisation will take over the day-to-day running of the refuges. The women and families that use the refuges in Newham are from outside of the borough.

A Newham Council spokeswoman said the contract will keep the same level of support for vulnerable women as before and that an equality impact assessment has been carried out.

She added that the building where the refuges operate are owned by a third party, and will be offered to which ever provider runs the service.

This means that the shelters won't "close" - so as far as the women and children in the refuge are concerned there will be no change in accommodation.

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Anjum Mouj, chairwoman of LBWP, said: "We want to be re-commissioned."

Baljit Banga, executive director at Imkaan, another minority service provider affiliated with the project, added: "Across the country, BAME women's services are being decommissioned through tendering and commissioning.

"You have small, grass roots organisations bidding against organisations that are 20 times their size."

Under the current system for awarding contracts, 70 per cent of the decision is weighed to value for money, with the rest being awarded for the quality of the provision.

More than 100 people showed up the protest outside the council's main offices in Beckton. Picture: Vicki Couchman.More than 100 people showed up the protest outside the council's main offices in Beckton. Picture: Vicki Couchman.

Newham's mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said: "There's a procurement process under way and that procurement process hasn't been concluded.

"A final decision hasn't been made because the LBWP have, through their legal team requested a series of reviews on different areas of the procurement process that they were concerned about."

"As a consequence of the concerns that they've raised the procurement process is still under way."

If the decision to cancel the project's contract stands, all four of its refuges for women in the borough will close. A review is underway, but a reversal is unlikely. Picture: Vicki Couchman.If the decision to cancel the project's contract stands, all four of its refuges for women in the borough will close. A review is underway, but a reversal is unlikely. Picture: Vicki Couchman.

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