AS International Women’s Day approaches in March, The Lancashire Telegraph speaks to the women helping other women going through domestic abuse.

At the Wish Centre in Blackburn, women and even men and children go in and out as they seek the help of the organisation that helps them rebuild their lives.

One of the founders, and current chair of trustees is Pauline Geraghty, who along with four other women in the 80s realised there was no service for women to support them.

In 1991, they opened the first refuge centre in the infirmary area in Blackburn, and later moved to King Street after demand for their services grew.

Mrs Geraghty from Darwen said: “We were offering support and safe accommodation, along with legal solutions.

“Now, we help male perpetrators, children, and women in gaining employment and education.”

Mrs Geraghty, now 59, used to be a social worker by profession.

She said: “In my career I saw many victims and there were no services to respond to them, so I understood that they needed something.

“We also work with young people and talk to them about healthy relationships and about what they might have experienced at home.”

The centre also run a male perpetrator programme, which works with the men involved to change their behaviour.

Mrs Geraghty said: “We need to change the perpetrator’s understanding.

“Last year we won a contract to extend the service to the whole of Lancashire.

“We assess the man first to see if he is stable and we look at what could trigger this behaviour.

“We try to follow them up in a year and we do have a good success rate.

“This will help future relationships, rather than just support the victims, we help the preparator change so they do not hurt others otherwise the cycle continues.”

The CEO of The Wish Centre is 51-year-old Shigufta Khan from Blackburn.

Mrs Khan joined the organisation 10 years ago, she said: “I used to work for the local authority supporting homeless people or those about to become homeless.

“I was looking for a new challenge and at the time The Wish Centre were addressing the issue of not having enough BME people referred or calling in.

“So, we set to spread awareness in the community and I think people wanted a BME worker who wound understand their language and culture.

“It is a mixed community here now and everyone learns from each-other.”

Data from the 208 to 2019 period shows that Asian British is the second highest percentage of women referred, at 14.2%, with White British women still taking up 76.2% and others at 2.4%.

Within the board of trustees is also Elaine Cairns, a 67-year-old from Blackburn.

Mrs Cairns joined the organisation in 1993 when she wanted to do something more to help those in her community.

She said: “I went to the NSPCC and asked about volunteering.

“I joined a programme to support children living in refuge, and it was working in partnership with The Wish Centre.

“People think it does not affect the children, but it does.

“Some women do even realise how they got to the point where they are victims.

“We have to thank the community too, because we put out a post on Instagram asking for baby items for an expectant mum here, and within two days we have had an abundance of things.

“Some people even asked us what the mother needs.”

For all three women, the message is clear, women need to support other women in order to ensure a healthy generation of women who go on to do great things.

To find our more about The Wish Centre, visit their website