The closure of the women’s charity, Eaves: high rents, no funding for core costs, and poor commissioning

It was with great sadness that I heard last week of the closure of another charity, this time the women’s organisation, Eaves. Eaves worked with the victims of trafficking, prostitution, and sexual violence. It offered housing and employment services as well for women in contact with the criminal justice system. Within each area of work Eaves provides frontline support and advocacy as well as undertaking lobbying and campaigning.

Eaves was founded in 1977. Amongst its projects were:

  • the Poppy project which supported women victims of trafficking. It helped 45 women bring their traffickers to justice obtaining combined sentence of 423 years.
  • the London Exiting Advocacy project for women exiting prostitution.
  • the Alice project which prevented homelessness for 294 women this year, women with multiple and complex disadvantages.

Eaves blamed the closure on high rents, a funding base that did not cover core costs, and the tragic illness, and subsequent loss, of its inspirational chief executive, Denise Marshall.

Unlike Kids Company, Eaves took the action that a well governed organisation should take when faced with a worsening financial outlook. They diversified its funding base, increased donations, cut costs, and moved offices, but it wasn’t enough.

Eaves was a very special charity, yet there is nothing special about its demise, especially for a women’s organisation.

In a statement on its website, Eaves says that “it is not purely and simply cuts that are at play. It is abysmal commissioning whereby commissioners either do not know or do not care what they should be looking for or how to assess a bid other than by lowest unit cost with no regard to quality. This is evidenced by the fact that large, generic, non-specialist organisations are winning tenders, expanding, accumulating vast reserves, and specialist, smaller organisations with 40+ years of history with high levels of self referrals from women (a sure sign of the value of the service to the women) – are shrinking and having to use their scarce reserves to survive.”

Once a service or an organisation has gone, it is gone forever. We might lament the closure of organisation’s like Eaves, but the people who will feel it most are those who have relied on it to turn around and even saved their loves.

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