The Sunrise Centre, which offers support to domestic abuse victims, is calling for previous customers to share their service experiences to help secure funding for the future.

The project has helped almost 7,000 people across the county rebuild their lives after leaving abusive relationships since it opened its doors 7 years ago.

Funding for the project from the National Lottery Community Fund ends in September.

The project is holding a 7th birthday celebration, which coincides with International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March, and is inviting all previous and current customers to help celebrate and get feedback on the service.

Sophie, the Sunrise Centre team leader said: “This service is vital for people who are recovering from the devastating effects of abusive and unhealthy relationships.

“Domestic abuse is a huge problem with 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experiencing some form of abuse in relationships in their lifetime.

“For our vital and valuable service to continue, we need to secure new funding, and we hope that evaluating the effectiveness of our service with current and past customers will help us with this.”

Lucy* met her partner on a night out. He became extremely violent after he moved in with her. After seven years together, Lucy took the brave step of leaving him after one brutal attack left her with dark spots in front of her eyes: “I ended up sitting in the solicitor’s office and my face was black and blue and I had a knuckle imprint in the side of my face.

“That to me was when I thought, ‘right, no more.’ So, I got an injunction which gave me the space to get out and I never took him back again.”

Lucy then came to the Sunrise Centre and started volunteering for Arch. “When you’re at rock bottom you really don’t see that there’s anything you can do, you just sort of exist and you don’t think that you deserve any more either.

“Arch definitely changed my life and it set me on a path which I wouldn’t have had the confidence to get up and do otherwise.”

Anyone wishing to attend this event is asked to contact the Sunrise Centre on 01782 222411 or email sunrise@archnorthstaffs.org.uk.