A DOMESTIC abuse charity has reflected on its ‘proud’ history after marking 30 years of helping those in need in the area.

Members of Blackburn & Darwen District Without Abuse (BDDWA) got together to hold an event at Liz n Lil’s in Blackburn to mark the occasion.

Staff, volunteers and trustees past and present joined to share memories of setting up the first refuge in the borough in 1991 in Mosley Street, Blackburn, two years after it first formed.

The group went on to open a community wish centre in 1998 in Cardwell Place, helping it to develop and expand its domestic abuse service and support women and children in having a life free from abuse.

It opened another refuge centre in Preston New Road in 2003, after outgrowing its previous base, and now has two refuges in Blackburn, which can accommodate 14 families.

It also currently runs a wish centre in King Street, which it moved into in 2011, and host a helpline and a variety of groups to help people in the borough who have been victims of abuse.

Pauline Geraghty, chair of trustees of the group, said: “We liked the idea of opening up a women’s refuge, there was nothing in the area like that at the time.

“We’ve just kept expanding and outgrowing our bases.

“Now we talk to more than 1,000 people every year looking for help with domestic abuse," said Ms Geraghty.

“It would be great if we weren’t needed, but unfortunately more and more people are facing these problems.

“We’re so proud to be helping so many people, and helping change lives.”

The charity currently has 20 members of staff and around 25 volunteers to support them.

Earlier this year the group launched its 30th year anniversary celebrations by holding an event on International Women’s Day.

Since then the group has held fun days for refuge residents and briefing sessions for staff from agencies across the borough, such as the event at Liz n Lil’s.

Ms Geraghty, 58, who has been involved with the group from the start, said: “It was a great celebration full of emotional stories of the people who had been helped over the years.

“We are really proud to have been active across the borough for 30 years and look forward to continuing to support people who need our services.”

The group has more plans for the remainder of the year.

It has just launched a photographic competition and the winners will have their photographs in a special BDDWA celebratory calendar which will be on sale later in the year.