Duchess of Cornwall with Anita O’Dea and Megan Marshall chair of trustees at Wirral Women and Children’s Aid (c) Nathan Hawker

On Tuesday 12th February, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall visited Women’s Aid member refuge service Wirral Women and Children’s Aid as part of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall’s visit to Liverpool.

The Duchess of Cornwall was taken on a tour of the refuge where she met current residents and their children and also spoke to the refuge’s staff about the life-transforming work they do at the service. The Duchess also presented a gift to the refuge’s former office manager, Anita O’Dea, who recently retired from the organisation after 28 years of service.

The Duchess has long supported and championed the work of domestic abuse charities, like Women’s Aid and its member services. She has raised awareness of domestic abuse to help survivors of violence against women and girls both in the UK and internationally.

During the visit to Wirral Women and Children’s Aid, the Duchess also spoke with a survivor who has been supported by the service. Nicola* experienced domestic abuse and controlling behaviour for over a decade. As a result of the abuse, she was hospitalised on account of the injuries she sustained and was also separated from her children. After being supported by Wirral Women and Children’s Aid, she is managing to rebuild her life.

Nicola*, survivor support by Wirral Women and Children’s Aid, said:

“When I first came into refuge, I was so frightened. I was a terrible mess but the staff helped me find myself again. I had no confidence and was drinking to help me cope with not being able to see my children. At first, I was too frightened to report any of the abuse and control that I had lived with for years. The emotional support I got from the staff changed this. They made me feel safe and with time I knew that he could not get me anymore. I started believing in myself when I realised that others believed me.

“I have moved on from the refuge now and I am starting to rebuild my life. I know he will always try to control me, but I am stronger now and I know I can always call the refuge if I ever need support. Without their help, I don’t know where I’d be.”

Wirral Women and Children’s Aid supports women and their children to rebuild their lives free from domestic abuse through its refuge, outreach, dedicated support for children and helpline services. It provides refuge accommodation for twelve women and up to 26 children in the Wirral area. It is a member of Women’s Aid, a national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children.

Emma Clark, Head of Services at Wirral Women and Children’s Aid, said:

The Duchess’s visit has meant so much to all of us here. The residents were thrilled to know that a member of the Royal Family would be coming to see us. Their experiences have robbed many of them of their confidence and self-esteem, and to feel that they are worth a royal visit has had a powerful impact on their morale. The visit has also supported us in raising awareness of domestic abuse and the trauma that the women and children who live with us have experienced. We are all grateful to the Duchess for including the refuge in her busy schedule.

Wirral Women and Children’s Aid relies on the generosity of its supporters to continue its work helping women and their children rebuild their lives free from domestic abuse. You can support Wirral Women and Children’s Aid by donating online today: www.wwaca.org.

For information or support, you can contact the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.womensaid.org.uk.

For more information, please contact the Women’s Aid press office:

020 7566 2511 / [email protected]

© 2015 Women's Aid Federation of England – Women’s Aid is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 3171880.

Women’s Aid is a registered charity in England No. 1054154

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