A team of solicitors have been busy over the Christmas season helping women and children who have taken refuge.
YMCA Bedfordshire took to social media appealing for help to give the 22 women and their children housed in two women’s refuges a Christmas that would signal a fresh new start.
Staff at Woodfines Solicitors in Sandy and Bedford jumped into action and started a gift drive.
Paul Hunt, YMCA Bedfordshire’s CEO, said: “We started managing the refuges in September this year and were desperate to provide these women, most of whom leave home with nothing but what they can carry and their emotional and physical scars, a Christmas that they will enjoy and look back on with fond memories in the years to come.”
Neil Gibbs, partner at Woodfines Solicitors, said: “We are delighted to be supporting YMCA Bedfordshire’s Women’s Refuge Christmas campaign. We hope that in some way the gifts received from our generous team members will help to make Christmas a little brighter for each of them.”
One of the current residents, whose name is withheld for her own protection, said: “Last Christmas is a blur, just as the previous two years had been with every day filled with the dread of what I had done wrong and how I make everything a nightmare for everyone. Christmas just meant more dread and walking on egg shells whilst having to keep up appearances with visits to family. My only wish was that everything would stop but I didn’t know what to do to make it stop.
“In the summer I was able to leave with my children and we started our new lives. I got fairy lights to bring some Christmas into our home, we draped them over the only picture we have hanging on the wall and turned off all the lights. We sat watching them in silence until we all started to giggle at the moment. It was then I realised I can be safe, happy and feel again.”
Through the services offered by YMCA Bedfordshire, those fleeing domestic abuse are able to not just find a safe haven but also all the solid support and help they need to move forward into a positive and safer future. Staff highlighted that what they particularly love about this season is that they are able to provide a happier Christmas, one that marks the beginning of many more to come. From April 2015 to March 2016 in Central Bedfordshire alone, 3,200 domestic abuse incidents were reported to Bedfordshire Police - 50% of which reported children living at the home address at the time. During that year 128 women accessed Central Bedfordshire’s Women’s Refuge services with most staying for an average of 12 months.
Figures for 2014 reveal that 123 children had their lives turn upside down when they also found refuge along with their mothers.
If you would like to support the work undertaken across the county by YMCA Bedfordshire visit www.ymcabedfordshire.org.uk