A chance to make a real difference to families in crisis across the Fylde is being given to Citizen readers with the launch today of our first Tins and Toys Appeal to help those suffering domestic abuse.
Around one in four women experience abuse at some stage in their lives and in the run up to Christmas the Citizen is aiming to collect toys and essential goods for Fylde Coast Women's Aid.
The organisation operates two refuges in the area and offers other support to hundreds of women in need.
Last year, the service, which covers the boroughs of Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, helped more than 100 women and their families and recorded 4,628 telephone inquiries in respect of refuges and other support.
Our sister papers in Preston and Chorley have had their own Tins and Toys appeals for more than five years.
Refuge organisers in those areas have been overwhelmed by the support of Citizen readers who want to bring some Christmas cheer to abused women and their families.
The women using the refuges, often with young children, usually have to leave the family home for the sanctuary of the refuge with very little or no notice. So donations from The Citizen's generous readers will offer vital support over the holidays and beyond.
All we ask is that gifts are new and unwrapped, and tins and unperishable foods are within their sell-by date.
Toiletries for the mothers would also be appreciated, as would nappies and items for babies.
Tina Hibbard, assistant service manager at Fylde Coast Women's Aid, said: "We have been working on the Fylde Coast for the last 14 years, with women and children who are suffering or have suffered domestic abuse.
"We are delighted to be associated with the Citizen Tins and Toys campaign.
"Every family that is connected with our organisation will benefit greatly from the Citizen readers' help and support. It will make so much difference to so many women and children.
"Christmas is a time for peace and happiness. This cannot be achieved for many of our families therefore any help to make this time as festive as possible would be fabulous. Many, many thanks in anticipation of all your help and support."
Local businesses and other organisations are welcome to make donations of tins and toys.
The start of our appeal has been boosted with a fantastic donation of £100 of new toys by 21st Century Windows, of Pouton.
Managing director John McVey, said: "This is way of helping, in a very real way, families from the Fylde facing a difficult festive period.
"I'm sure the generosity of the Fylde folk will come through and they will back the Citizen's campaign."
Citizen editor Gill Ellis said: "We are delighted to launch The Tins and Toys Appeal in the Fylde. I'm sure our loyal readers, will rally in the run up to the festive period to make it a success."
Readers wishing to make a donation can call in to our offices at 13-13A, Clifton Street, Blackpool, during office hours, or call 01253 292005 for further details.