New Mayor of Woking will put focus on domestic violence

DOMESTIC violence charity YourSanctuary will receive a huge boost to its fundraising efforts and awareness of its work after being chosen by the new Mayor of Woking as his charity for his year in office.

Cllr Graham Cundy made the announcement after he was elected as the 44th Woking Borough Mayor in the town centre council chamber last week.

Cllr Cundy pointed out that this year was the charity’s 40th anniversary and had two refuges, including one in Woking, where 50 families can stay, receiving the help they need to build their lives.

The charity’s founder Fiamma Pather said she was “absolutely thrilled and honoured” to have been chosen by the new mayor.

“It was an unusual and brave choice. My hope for the year is that it will bring the issue of domestic abuse more into the open and will give us the opportunity to take this to people we might not normally reach,” Fiamma said.

As well as the refuges, YourSanctuary also has outreach workers helping victims in their homes.

Attending the official Mayor-Making Ceremony last week was Robert, who helps male victims of abuse.

He said that raising awareness, especially of male victims, was very important, and he hoped that this would help with fundraising.

The immediate past Mayor, Cllr Anne Murray, chose the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices as her charity, which raised its profile and led to an increase in the number of fundraising events held.

Other previous mayor’s charities told the News & Mail of the benefits of that status.

Robert Marsh, of Comabat Stress, which was one of Cllr Tony Branaghan’s charities in 2014-15, said that the organisation had raised £11,000 in that year for its work in helping former servicemen and woman with mental health problems.

“Being one of the Mayor’s chosen charities encouraged other community groups and individuals to raise funds for Combat Stress,” Mr Marsh said. “It is vital that we raise awareness and funds for the charity to ensure we can continue to support every veteran that needs our help.”

LinkAble, which helps people with learning difficulties, was one of Cllr Derek McCrum’s charities in 2015-16. Managing director Stephen Mortimer said the status was “incredibly beneficial, particularly in this current difficult funding landscape.” Mr Mortimer added: “The mayor took the time to come and see what we had to offer for the residents of Woking. Calling on the Mayor to attend events also helped us get others to attend fund-raising activities and ultimately raised awareness of us in the local area.”

Samaritans North West Surrey was another of Cllr McCrum’s charities, which director Gill Rose described as “a godsend”.

Ms Rose added: “As a result, we received over £12,000. This represented roughly half of our annual running costs for that year and was the largest single contribution.

“”The connection came about as a result of Cllr McCrum’s involvement with our charity as a volunteer back in the early 1970s.

“There were also donations from other charities supported by the mayor and with whom we became involved in variety of joint activities.

“It also raised our profile locally. Many people think that we are part funded by the government, but we’re not. While we are a national organisation, individual branches are responsible for raising their own funds”.

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