VICTIMS of domestic violence and abuse will have a safe haven to go to when a new refuge centre opens.

The accommodation will provide sanctuary for women and their children in the immediate aftermath of escaping abuse.

Affordable housing provider Irwell Valley Homes has made a property available in Bury for the cause, though the location of the centre cannot be disclosed for security reasons.

Bolton charity Fortalice, which has worked in the field of domestic abuse for more than 42 years, will provide the support services for the victims.

Chief executive Gill Smallwood, who grew up in Bury, said: “Specialist domestic abuse support workers will work with the women and children to make sure that their mental health is good.

"There will be a range of activities offered to promote better independence and to empower the women to enable them to live lives free from the cycle of abuse, for example art therapy and recovery tool kits. The activities will depend on the needs of the people we have in the refuge”

Fortalice already works in partnership with Irwell Valley in Bolton.

Andrew White, head of independent and community living for Irwell Valley Homes, said: “We have been working with Fortalice for more than 30 years providing vital support to families fleeing domestic abuse in Bolton.

“This latest refuge in Bury will build on our successful partnership, providing a safe and supportive sanctuary where women and their children will receive life-changing support to move on with their lives.”

At the Bury refuge, there is capacity for one woman and two families to be housed at any one time, with 24/7 on-call monitoring of the site, and support workers visiting on a daily basis. There is also a communal kitchen and living area.

Referrals will be made on a case by case basis by Bury Council’s housing department. The council has been involved in discussions to shape the services and support that will be provided at the centre, and the referral pathway.

Victims will receive one-to-one support. They will also have access to support around housing, benefits, personal safety, personal development, budgeting, education, mental health services, drugs and alcohol advice, and more.

Accommodation will be provided for about 12 weeks on average, up to a maximum period of about six months, with the overall aim to help victims to secure long-term, stable accommodation.

Fortalice is working in partnership with children and adult social care workers, police, mental health services, drugs and alcohol recovery teams and counselling services, to name a few.

"This refuge will make a huge difference", Gill said, "I believe that this can save lives.

"It will give people an opportunity to escape and to be safe.

"In Bury there are other people working holistically on domestic abuse services but as far as we are aware, there is not another refuge. We see this as an absolutely brilliant start for Bury.

"We are really looking forward to working with all of the other agencies and services in Bury on domestic violence."

Cllr Sharon Briggs, Bury Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership to really make a positive difference and a lasting impact.”

If you are in an emergency situation, call 999. Alternatively call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.