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Organisers of an event which aims to raise money for women and children suffering domestic abuse are urging residents to come along and take part.

Taking place on Saturday 20 July, the event has been organised by Hereford City Sports Club in partnership with West Mercia Women’s Aid.

This is the third year the two organisations have teamed up and hopes are high that it will be the best yet.

Funds raised in previous years have steadily increased and it is hoped that the money raised this year will have a substantial impact on delivering services to those most in need.

 Although the event now aims to raise awareness of the devastating impact of domestic abuse, it has established itself as a fun family day out.  Starting at 1.00pm, it includes tug of war teams, sack races, food stalls and the opportunity to learn circus skills.  Hair braiding, face painting, egg and spoon races plus a bouncey castle will all appeal to younger family members. Funds raised will go towards supporting the CRUSH project, a local initiative that – due to its success – will be rolled out nationally across the UK later this year.

Developed by West Mercia Women’s Aid, the project was launched in October 2011. Funded by the Big Lottery’s Young People’s Fund it helps teenagers, aged 13 to 19 years, to avoid abusive relationships, end an abusive relationship safely or better manage their exposure to domestic abuse in the household in which they live.

Since its launch, CRUSH has gone from strength to strength. Since June 2012 it has been running throughout West Mercia and has offered places to more than 250 young people.  In addition, organisations ran ‘closed’ groups throughout the area for 130 further young people.  CRUSH presentations have been delivered to a variety of professional bodies which work with young people, including West Mercia Police – these presentations have reached more than 3000 children and young people.

85 per cent of those that have completed the CRUSH programme have reported a change in attitude towards relationships in the following areas : • Ways men and women behave in relationships; • Expectations about a partner; • Ways they behave to the opposite sex; • Ways they behave towards their partner; • Ways they behave towards their parents; • Ways they deal with the impact of domestic abuse.

Notably, more than a third of young people receiving support reported changed attitudes towards their own relationships.  It is clear from young people’s feedback that they both want and need information about abuse in relationships and that they are frequently not getting this from elsewhere.

CRUSH helps young people learn through the experiences of fictional characters that they create and guide through a number of typical teenage scenarios, culminating in how to deal with an abusive relationship.  The programme is specifically designed to complement the subject matter around domestic abuse, healthy relationships and gender bullying that may take place in schools’ PSHE/Citizenship curriculums or initiatives such as Expect Respect.

Jan Frances, Chief Executive of West Mercia Women’s Aid said: “Our heartfelt thanks go to Hereford City Sports Club for their continued support of our work to tackle the devastating impact of domestic abuse on women and children.  The CRUSH project has a positive and enduring impact on those young people who take part and we look forward to a fun occasion raising more funds to continue the excellent work.”

“The statistics surrounding sexual abuse, intimidation and violence in teenage intimate relationships are frightening.  Both nationally and locally we are hopeful that this situation can change.

“Nationally, research shows that teenage girls between 16 and 19 are now the group most at risk of domestic abuse, closely followed by women aged 20-24.

“And locally, the CRUSH Project provides teenagers with the emotional and practical knowledge they need to recognise, deal with and successfully move on from abusive relationships.”

Paul Marshall from Hereford City Sports Club said: “We have an established relationship with West Mercia Women’s Aid and over the years we have helped raise funds to support their work.  This year’s event promises to be our best joint venture yet!”

Entry for a Tug of War team costs £35.00 for a team of 10 – 8 pulling and 2 reserves.  To sign up, please contact Paul Marshall on 07753231252 or Lew Braithwaite on 07786995710.  Car parking and general entry are both free.

Hereford City Sports Club is based along Grandstand Road in the city.