How police in South Tyneside are supporting victims of abuse with new survival bags

From left, Jill Smith from Newcastle Soroptimist club and Acting Superintendent Claire Wheatley, Soroptimists Kath Shearer, Judy Donnelly and Anne Gunning.
From left, Jill Smith from Newcastle Soroptimist club and Acting Superintendent Claire Wheatley, Soroptimists Kath Shearer, Judy Donnelly and Anne Gunning.

Domestic abuse victims in South Tyneside are to be offered ‘survival bags’ to help them start a new life.

The bags, which contain everyday essentials, being made available in the Northumbria Police area with the help of Soroptimists International – a charity dedicated to transforming the lives of women and girls.

It aims to help victims take that initial step and come forward and will begiven to victims who have come forward to police after leaving their homes without any belongings.

This may be victims fleeing domestic or sexual abuse or victims of modern day slavery/human trafficking who have only the clothes on their backs in their possession.

The packs – known as New Start Bags – contain items such as soap, towel, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, day and night clothes, underwear, purse with five pound coins in and make-up.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, who is also the President of Newcastle Soroptimists, said: “What seems a simple idea can be such a welcome gesture for someone fleeing the home they share with an abusive partner. It can often be a very spur of the moment decision – a decision of immense coverage and bravery.

“Victims are often experiencing fear and stress – taking these basic essentials is far from their mind.

“These bags are not only full of useful items but they immediately show that there are people who care. I give my full support to any initiative that helps people to leave a home of violence and abuse. This is a worthwhile project by both the Soroptimists and Northumbria Police – it is sure to make a difference to many brave victims in our area.”

Acting Superintendent Claire Wheatley, from Northumbria Police, said: “The survival bags have been a huge success for us in terms of reassuring victims that they are in safe hands.

“These people can often leave home without a penny on them as many abusive partners restrict their financial access so they can’t just go out and buy these things.

“We need victims to know that their safety, dignity and welfare are our absolute priority and by working with fantastic organisations such as Soroptimists International, we are able to give the best level of care to them.”

For further information and advice search Victims First Northumbria or Northumbria Police online or follow the initiative on social media #itsnotok or visit the website here.