A CHARITY that helps women suffering from domestic violence in Bury is to close following the resignation of its entire management team.

Bury Women's Aid will disband at the end of March amid growing tension between voluntary managers and paid support workers.

Officers from Bury Council called an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss how to ensure that vulnerable women are not left without support.

They said they were confident that all services could be saved but concrete proposals have yet to be announced.

Bury Women's Aid has been running for almost 30 years and is the only organisation of its kind in the borough. It helps hundreds of women every year, running an outreach service as well as a safe house with space for eight women and 22 children.

All six members of its management team have now resigned, saying they no longer believe the service should be managed by volunteers - which is the standard arrangement for Women's Aid and many other charities nationally.

The charity's ten support officers face redundancy, although Bury Council hopes to see them transferred to a replacement organisation.

Sue Arnold, chairwoman of Bury Women's Aid, said: "It's very sad but we've had to look at whether the organisational system is fit for purpose. There have been problems over the years with staff relations, boundaries and personal issues.

"We've always managed to move on and restructure but we've now decided that as volunteers with our own full-time jobs, we don't have the time, expertise or energy to run a service that's so crises-based, or to monitor, develop and care for our staff in the way they deserve.

"We're all concerned for the women and children who will need to be made safe in the future. I understand that the news will be very alarming, and there may be a gap in provision for a time, but I hope other organisations will fill that gap."

The majority of the charity's funding comes from the government via Bury Council.

A council spokesman said yesterday: "We would also like to reassure the public that we are working in partnership with other organisations to make sure no services are lost because of Women's Aid's decision.

"We will make the same level of funding available and treat the issue with the same, high priority as before."

Bury Women's Aid has begun winding down its services.

Women in need of support should now call the Manchester Domestic Violence Helpline on (0161) 636 7525 or the national helpline on 08082000247.