Still time to make Christmas special for domestic violence victims

Kate Lodge, Natalie Griffiths and Lynn Boreland from Hartlepool Refuge with centre manager Mark Rycraft.

Kate Lodge, Natalie Griffiths and Lynn Boreland from Hartlepool Refuge with centre manager Mark Rycraft.

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Kind-hearted shoppers have excelled themselves by giving hundreds of presents for needy children at Christmas since the launch of an annual appeal.

The Middleton Grange Giving Tree Appeal has seen more than 650 presents handed over for the Harbour Women’s Refuge.

The campaign, which is now in its 10th year, collects gifts for children and young people who have been affected by domestic abuse in their home and now supported by the refuge.

Shoppers collect gift tags on the giving tree in the central square in the shopping centre before then buying presents.

In previous years the campaign has collected an impressive 120-150 gifts over the four-week period, but this year over 200 gifts were received within days and there are still weeks of the campaign left.

Centre manager Mark Rycraft said: “Our customers are always really generous and get behind our Giving Tree campaign.

“But this year we have really been overwhelmed by their generosity and enthusiasm to help local children who may not be looking forward to Christmas.

“We would like to thank everyone for their generosity so far.

“There are plenty of tags still available for anyone who would like to help us bring some Christmas magic to those children whose families who are currently receiving help from Harbour.”

The Harbour Women’s Refuge offers 56 units of refuge accommodation to women and children who are leaving an abusive relationship.

The refuge also provides open access, 24-hour cover and a range of support and guidance services for women and children.

Those leaving refuge are supported to re-integrate themselves into the community.

A spokesperson for the refuge said: “The response so far is amazing and we can’t wait until Christmas when we distribute all of the gifts to children who may not get any other presents this year.

“Domestic abuse affects each child or young person differently. When they first come to us as homeless children they’re frightened, confused and vulnerable.

“We offer them a safe place and work with them to move forward.”

Gifts can be left with Customer Services in the Middleton Grange shopping centre until Christmas Eve where they will then be collected.