THE work of a local domestic abuse charity has been recognised with a supper held at The Hub in Lyme Regis.

The bring and share evening raised awareness of the Dorset Women's Refuge and highlighted the actions of the Dorset and Hampshire charity, You First.

Organiser of the supper and Lyme resident Tracey West said: "I wanted to make people on the edge of Dorset aware of what support is available if they're experiencing a crisis. As Patron of the Women's Action Network Dorset (WAND), I've met so many women who have benefited from the lifeline that our women's refuge and related support services offer."

Over the past 12 months, more than 1,100 people have been referred to the charity's domestic abuse service. Nationally, it is believed that two women a week are killed by their partner, ex-partner or a family member, and 10 more take their own lives as a result of the abuse. The Dorset Women’s Refuge offers 16 beds to women and children and is frequently full.

Katie Bielec, service manager at You First and spokesperson for the refuge, talked to guests at the supper about the reality of domestic violence.

"Those coming into the refuge may at times have to leave at just a moment’s notice, arriving with little more than the clothes on their backs," she said. "Our role is to make the refuge feel safe and warm by providing simple items such as a teddy on the bed, toys in the rooms, toiletries in the bathroom and food for three days."

"Support is required for everyone experiencing domestic abuse, whether that involves coming to the refuge, or living within our community," Katie continued. "We aim to provide people with the skills to live independently, away from fear and harm, and to no longer need the intervention of a service like ours.”

The supper concluded with a final call to action to local residents and businesses in Dorset, identifying simple ways they can help victims of domestic abuse.

Tracey added: "Although we are lucky to have some of the best facilities in the country, the refuge sadly lacks funding to buy many of the basics. It's utterly reliant on donations of items including bedding, towels, plates and cutlery, as well as fundraising efforts by members of the community."

To support the refuge or make a donation, contact the team at