Children's Christmas gifts delivered to Wearside Women in Need after increase in domestic violence

Children who’ve been affected by domestic violence will be given the gift of kindness this Christmas.
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More than 100 presents for different age ranges have been donated to the city’s Wearside Women in Need (WWIN), which supports women and children who are at risk of or are suffering from domestic violence.

It’s been widely reported that cases of domestic violence have increased nationally during lockdown and personal trainer Kathryn Forte, from Sunderland, felt more compelled than ever to help a cause on her doorstep.

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Kathryn, who also runs a massage and nutrition business, said: “Times have been really hard this year and people want to do something to help. I run a boot camp and we have a Whatsapp group for members where we share ideas.

Kathryn Forte, right, presents gifts to Ciara Barrett Smith from Wearside Women in Need.Kathryn Forte, right, presents gifts to Ciara Barrett Smith from Wearside Women in Need.
Kathryn Forte, right, presents gifts to Ciara Barrett Smith from Wearside Women in Need.

"One of the members had mentioned about incidents of domestic violence incidents increasing, which is a cause I have a lot of empathy towards.

"To be stuck in a house where there is domestic violence during lockdown must feel like the least safe place there is. It’s horrific at the best of times, never mind now.”

Kathryn decided to donate 150 gifts herself, which are all non-gender specific and labelled for an age range. She teamed up with boxing coach and photographer Hannah Pearson to deliver the gifts to the charity’s base in Bridge House.

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Hannah said: “As a boxing coach, I see the benefit that sport has, especially for women. Boxing boosts confidence and empowers girls and women in all aspects of their lives.”

Charities across the city have been affected by the pandemic as it’s meant the usual sponsored sports events, which raise vital funds, have been cancelled.

WWIN is working hard to raise funds for a minibus so that women and children in the refuges, who've become increasingly isolated during the pandemic, can go on day trips to outdoor spaces.

So far, more than £9,000 of the £16,000 needed has been raised.

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Ciara Barrett Smith, volunteer co-ordinator at Wearside Women In Need, said: “Thank you so much to Kathryn, founder of WEARfit, for these gifts for the children we support, it means so much to us to have the support of local businesses, especially at this difficult time for everyone. Due to Covid-19 we've only been able to accept a small number of the generous donations we've been offered this year.

"For those that would like to support us this Christmas we've been encouraging people to support our fundraising appeal for a minibus. The women and children in our refuges have become increasingly isolated during the pandemic; cut off from the wider community and with limited access to the outdoors. A minibus will provide transport for the families we support and allow us to take them on trips out of refuge.

"Supporting the appeal could mean sharing the page on social media, letting your friends know about it, leaving a supportive comment or making a small pledge. We know we have an amazing community here in Sunderland and we're so grateful for everyone's help at this time.”

To donate to the Wearside Women in Need fundraising appeal visit

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