Whitby businesses have helped save Christmas for a seven year-old boy and his mum who fled to Whitby to escape domestic violence.
The little boy, who witnessed his mum being attacked physically and verbally by his father, was facing the prospect of only having a couple of presents from a charity shop to open on Christmas Day as his mum had to leave behind her home and well-paid job in recruitment.
But with the help of Andersons, Sainsbury’s and the town’s Poundland store, the Gazette stepped in to help make the first Christmas of safety as special as possible.
Sainsbury’s donated a hamper of games, books, sweets, chocolate, a Christmas tree and decorations, while Andersons handed over a Lego set which is the little lad’s favourite toy but his mum was unable to afford to buy him.
A group of women who work at Poundland put their own money in to fill a trolley with £40 worth of goods from books, toys, socks, sweets and chocolate.
Martin Milburn, from Sainsbury’s in Whitby, said: “We do get requests for help all the time but this is different and it is nice to be able to do something.”
Vicky Cowey, Poundland manager, added: “It is awful and especially at Christmas such a sad story. It is harder to leave than it is to stay. The store has donated but it is mainly the staff that have contributed.”
The mum and her son, who can’t be named for their own protection, say they have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of people in Whitby and can finally look forward to Christmas after what has been a traumatic year.
She said: “People are being so kind, I cant believe it, Whitby’s community spirit is fantastic and helping people who are generally in need. I was so worried about Christmas with not having money to get my son much, or even anything.
“I am currently on benefits which does not really cover the bills especially when you are used to a wage coming in. I am desperate to work again and I loved that job.
“I had told him that mum does not have much money this year so there wouldn’t be many presents. My family are doing what they can but are not in a brilliant situation themselves.
“Now I can get into the Christmas spirit and can’t wait to see his face Christmas morning. It’s going to be fantastic.”
It will be a stark contrast to last Christmas spent in the victim’s native South Yorkshire with her ex-partner and his family and even his new girlfriend. As she shared her shocking story with the Whitby Gazette she says she agreed to it because it was what they had done for years and what her little boy was used to.
The catalogue of abuse started before the little boy was born seven years ago but over the years included
•him trying to drown her as she took a bath while she was pregnant
•throwing a laptop at her
•calling her “evil in front of their son
•spending the household money for bills and food on alcoho
•after the couple split two years ago, and she regained her confidence he convinced her he had changed and they should get back together
However, things came to a head in July this year after he allegedly attacked her for an hour in front of her son who begged his mum to go to the police and legal proceedings are still on-going.
She said: “It went on but still I went back. I didn’t have a dad growing up and was adamant my son would but I put up with a lot that I shouldn’t have for that reason.
“On a few occasions it would be physical but not to the extent that happened in July. He was charging at me, pushing me, throwing stuff at me and trying to strangle me. It went on for about an hour and when he left we were both in a right state.”
They mum and son were re-located to a safe house miles away but it meant leaving behind the family home and her job and she still lives in fear her ex will find her again.
She added:”This is the first year there is no connection with any of them and that is a big thing for both me and my son. It feels good for me, I have made that break but it is quite daunting.
“Sometimes I sit back and can’t believe that I have done it. I have lived with it for so long and put up with it. The change in my son is unbelievable. He has got settled into a new school and is more confident. He was Joseph in his school Christmas play and I just cried my eyes out.”