At this time of year our South Ribble and Chorley Women’s Refuges start to ask local people for help in supporting vulnerable families in their communities by taking part in its Christmas Wish Tree Appeal.

Many families staying at the refuges have had to flee their homes due to domestic abuse and have left behind all of their possessions, including Christmas presents.

The idea of the Wish Tree is simple, visit one of the wish trees and select a tag. Each tag gives a 'wish'; for example, a cuddly toy for a young child or a box of chocolates for a mum. Once you have bought the gift please return it unwrapped with the tag to where a Wish Tree is located.

You can find this year’s Christmas Wish Trees at our Sumner House office in Leyland, our Warwick House office in Lytham St Annes and one at South Ribble Borough Council's Civic Centre on West Paddock in Leyland.

Gifts will be collected at 12 noon on Friday 14 December in time to be distributed before Christmas.

This year will be the 17th year that the Wish Tree appeal has been running and the amount of support received means that not only can the staff at the refuges help the families that they work directly with, but can also support other families and young people in South Ribble and Chorley that are in need.

The appeal will distribute presents to residents of The Bridge in Chorley, a purpose-built housing scheme for homeless people aged 16-25. They will also be handed out by social workers and health visitors and to the young people supported by Leyland-based charity, Key Unlocking Futures, which works to help young people up to the age of 25 build a better life for themselves.

“Each year the people show such wonderful Christmas spirit with their overwhelming support of our wish tree appeal. There are so many vulnerable families in the South Ribble and Chorley areas and over the last 17 years they have made Christmas happen for hundreds of families. Thank you for all your support” . Liz Stanton, Manager of South Ribble and Chorley Women’s Refuges.

Since South Ribble Women’s Refuge opened its doors in 2000, it has provided a safe haven to over 1000 women and their children. The Refuge staff also support women in their own homes through its community resettlement service.

Clare House and Chorley Women’s Refuges are owned and managed by Progress Housing Group.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse you can call the 24-hour South Ribble and Chorley domestic abuse helpline for free, confidential advice on 01772 435865.