CHRISTMAS came early for women and children in a North Yorkshire refuge thanks to the generosity of a local building society – and its customers.

Each year, branches of the Skipton Building Society run a community giving initiative which involves choosing three charities - based on recommendations from colleagues - and then inviting people to cast ‘votes’ for those they would most like to support.

They do this by dropping a token into the box with the charity’s name on, and the one with the most votes receives £500 from the building society, with the others getting £300 and £200 respectively.

This year, customers at Skipton Building Society’s Northallerton branch were asked to choose from Hambleton Community Action, Community Works, and Broadacres’ women’s refuge.

The refuge was the overwhelming choice and the £500 was used to buy Christmas presents for the women and children who live there.

The Northern Echo: Darren and Michaela at the Skipton Building Society branch in Northallerton.

Michaela Thomas, Refuge Team Leader, said: “It’s such a lovely gesture by Skipton Building Society and its customers to choose the refuge to receive this money.

“The women and children living at refuge often come to us with little or no possessions because they have to leave at short notice to escape domestic abuse.

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“We are lucky to receive such wonderful support from the community which helps the women build new lives for themselves and this donation is a great example of this.”

Darren Timney, customer service lead at the Northallerton branch, said: “All three organisations were very deserving, and we are delighted to have been able to make donations through our community giving initiative.

“It’s clear the refuge has a special place in the hearts of local people and it’s nice to know the money is going to be put to such great use.”