Hartlepool-based charity wins Lottery jackpot to help domestic violence victims

Harbour chief executive Lesley Gibson.
Harbour chief executive Lesley Gibson.

A Hartlepool-based domestic abuse charity has hit the jackpot after being awarded almost £750,000 to help women for longer.

Harbour Support Services has scooped its biggest ever grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Women and Girls Initiative totalling £745,000.

Lesley Gibson is delighted at Harbour's Lottery award.

Lesley Gibson is delighted at Harbour's Lottery award.

The charity, which provides safety for women and children fleeing domestic abuse, says the money means it will be able to extend its services over the next three years to help change women’s lives for good.

It comes as the number of women referred to Harbour, which works across the North East, is increasing.

Last year, it helped over 2,500 clients making it one of the largest domestic abuse specialist support providers in the country.

Chief executive Lesley Gibson said: “This funding means we can provide an extended recovery service to women enabling them to sustain changes in their lives, achieve their full potential and live free from abuse.

This new money will allow us to work differently with clients and enable them to really move on in their lives

Lesley Gibson, chief executive Harbour Support Services

“We do offer a support service now for clients, but it has to be time limited due to funding constraints and all too often women experience further abuse.

“This new money will allow us to work differently with clients and enable them to really move on in their lives.”

New services are set to include emotional support, developing peer mentors to rebuild victims’ confidence, plus therapeutic groups and providing practical life skills such as money management, parenting and healthy eating.

Lesley added: “To support women to build resilience we will also work with the women in their networks; mothers, sisters, friends, improving understanding about domestic abuse and enabling women to support each other in the future.”

The number of women in need of Harbour’s help is on the increase which Lesley said was down to increased awareness that domestic abuse is unacceptable and a greater number of agencies now referring people to the charity.

Harbour provides refuge and outreach support services on behalf of Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton, County Durham and North Tyneside councils covering a population of over 750,000 people.

It is one of only 63 grants awarded nationally after over 500 applications to the Big Lottery Fund.

Lesley added: “For a locally based charity that is a large amount of money. I think we did extremely well and I was really pleased with the people that worked on the bid.

“It is the biggest grant we have had, it is really exciting what we hope to do with it.”