NORTHUMBERLAND Domestic Abuse Services will close at the end of March next year if funding cannot be found to allow the charity to continue to support adults and children who are living in terrifying and unpredictable circumstances.

The Hexham-based charity is the only specialist domestic abuse service in Northumberland to offer support and counselling for children and helps on average 600 men, women and children each year. NDAS plays a vital role in providing key local services to the region, including Cygnus support, GRACE Rape Crisis, Angelou Centre and Victims First.

But services supporting families at an early stage, in order to prevent child safeguarding issues, are under serious threat due to pressure on budgets, according to the Association of Directors of Children Services.

NDAS co-ordinator Karen Richardson said: “Without us, who is going to be serving the victims? It’s a concern that if we’re not here, there won’t be a service available.”

The organisation is widely recognised for the vital role it plays in providing services to rural communities where help may not be easily accessible.

It is its job to inform and educate statutory and voluntary services to raise awareness and remove the stigma associated with domestic violence and abuse.

Karen explained: “This includes training in a range of areas from domestic abuse awareness raising, domestic violence in relationships and understanding the needs of young people affected by domestic abuse.”

Part of this awareness training involves visiting schools to educate children and teachers about the signs and side-effects of domestic abuse.

As part of its appeal for help, NDAS is asking anyone from a referral partner organisation, who has worked with local police, health or children’s services or have received training in the past to add their support by making short video recordings.

They are encouraging people to give their opinion on why NDAS is such an important service, how has it has made life better for them or their organisation, and what the impact would be if the services closed its doors.

A film by the charity, which aims to teach young people about the dangers of emotional abuse, has won international awards since its launch last year.

Karen added: “The demand for funding is ever increasing whilst the pot of money gets smaller. All we can do is publicise our predicament and hope people can help out.”

The service, then called Sixty Eighty Thirty, was threatened with closure in 2015 before it received up to £720,000 in funding – a bumper £483,000 coming from the Big Lottery Fund.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird also offered financial support to keep the organisation running. The funding allowed the service to expand and provide support to men and children – not just women.

After hosting a charity abseil down Hexham Abbey, NDAS is working with the Northumberland Community Voluntary Action group to explore new ways of funding.