A DOMESTIC abuse charity has been forced to “correct misinformation” around the reported closure of its Inverness refuge after a social media backlash.

Inverness Women’s Aid issued a statement on social media on Thursday night after a press release on the Highland Council website said the service for women and girls fleeing abuse was no longer available.

The local authority pointed domestic abuse victims to its emergency accommodation service instead. However, the post was later deleted.

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Both organisations issued statements following an immediate public outcry on Facebook, with many locals decrying the move as “disgraceful” and “heartbreaking”. Scores of users shared the council statement on Facebook on Thursday, before the authority released an updated statement on Friday morning.

Inverness Women’s Aid said services were “continuing to operate as normal”.

“We are aware that stories about changes to our service have appeared on social media this evening, subsequent to a press release from Highland Council,” it read.

“We just want to clarify that our service is indeed undergoing some changes but these are very positive developments which have been planned over a long period.

“We are moving out of our current premises as part of a phased transition to a new model for providing our service.”

The charity said the new model will include an outreach base and “continued support for women to obtain safe and appropriate accommodation within the community”.

They continued: “The numbers of women and families using our refuge accommodation in the last year has decreased significantly - this new approach will make better use of our already insufficient funding and enable us to continue to meet the real needs of our clients.

“This is a model similar to ones used by many Women's Aid services across Scotland.”

The charity insisted the services will be continuing into a “strong future” to support victims recovering from domestic abuse.

“As we had planned to do, we will be putting out further information about these exciting changes in the next week,” the charity added.

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“Please share this update in order to correct any misinformation and to reassure.”

Highland Council said in a statement that it had been made aware the charity had taken the decision to change the service, including the refuge.

"The council received no prior notice of this decision and so cannot provide any information about the reason for this change of practice," a spokesperson for the local authority said.

"The council’s homelessness service will step in to provide emergency support whilst we try to understand the implications of this decision by Women’s Aid Inverness.

"Highland Council’s housing service can provide emergency accommodation to victims of domestic abuse to offer an immediate place of safety.

The National: Roddick said the statement from Highland Council was 'not wholly correct'Roddick said the statement from Highland Council was 'not wholly correct' (Image: PA)

"Safe at Home measures can also be provided and these include services such as additional door locks, chains and lighting.

"Advice is offered during the course of the temporary accommodation and housing will work with partner agencies such as Police Scotland to ensure that household safety is paramount at all times."

Emma Roddick, Highlands and Islands SNP MSP, said: "I understand from statements by Inverness Women's Aid that the statement issued last night by Highland Council was not wholly correct.

"I am relieved to read that Inverness Women's Aid will continue to provide vital support as normal as it moves to a new model of supporting women and families."