Appeal for furniture and toiletries for safe houses

A CHARITY which helps victims of domestic abuse in North Somerset is desperately appealing for a bigger base so it can help more people.

Gemma was set up in October by four people who were helped by the Gemini Project, which provides safe houses and support to men and women fleeing domestic abuse.

Gemma collects second-hand furniture, crockery, food and toiletries to furnish safe houses for people who have fled with nothing but the clothes on their back.

They also provide welcome packs full of food and toiletries for each adult and child arriving at the refuge.

The free service is now in such demand the charity needs a bigger base to store donations.

A member of Gemma said: “When somebody has fled abuse sometimes everything has been smashed up, sometimes it’s too dangerous to go back and get it, sometimes the perpetrator has taken everything. Very often they have to start all over again.

“We helped one man recently who fled with his daughter. They moved into a new apartment with absolutely nothing and slept on the floor for the first night. The next day we went in with a van and completely refurbished the place.

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“It just changes their lives instantly. It’s a huge, exhausting project, but it’s hugely appreciated.

“Every time someone comes to the refuge we give them a bag full of basic food to last them three days and toiletries. Without that these people would have nothing.

“It gives them an opportunity to take three days out without having to step outside. It’s very important because it’s a very stressful time.”

The charity also has annual passes to nearby attractions so families can borrow them to take their children on day trips. One of the founders of Gemma set up the charity after Gemini helped her get back on her feet.

She said: “I was in a refuge for five months. I was living in my car before that. I fled abuse which had been going on for five-six years.

“It was a few years ago and I didn’t have any assistance Gemma can provide now. I was so grateful for the support I did have, I just wanted to give something back.”

The charity has already helped 70 adults and 80 children since it was set up and hopes to help even more if it can find a bigger base.

Anyone interested in donating second-hand furniture, toiletries, food, or anyone who knows of any commercial space available to rent is asked to call Ness Hoare on 07771 548359. Furniture can be collected by the volunteers.