WOMEN suffering under the hands of violent partners across the region have this week be assured of Government help.

Barbara Roche, Minister for Social Exclusion and Equality, yesterday announced that £18.8m will be used to build and develop refuges throughout England, with £2.8m allocated to the North-East.

Local refugee groups, registered social landlords and local authorities across the region have bid for a share of the money to finance projects, which will help women and their children living in fear of homelessness.

Areas that will benefit from the money are Newcastle, Hartlepool, Easington and South Tyneside.

Home Group in Newcastle has been allocated the largest injection of cash totalling £1,361,250. Three Rivers in South Tyneside will receive £500,000, Endeavour in Easington £600,000 while Endeavour in Hartlepool will get £360,469.

In the North-East last year almost a quarter of the 6,460 people accepted as homeless in the region were victims of domestic abuse. Mrs Roche said the strong link between domestic violence and homelessness made this funding so important.

"Women and their children need safe secure accommodation, a place where they can start to plan for the future and to find an alternative to a life of abuse and fear," she said.

Once the bids have been assessed, the funding will be allocated to specific projects to provide much needed secure accommodation in every region of England.