A CHARITY has launched a £20,000 appeal to create a retreat for the families of murder and manslaughter victims.

The Teesside branch of Support After Murder and Manslaughter (Samm) is hoping to raise enough funds to buy a static caravan for use by relatives who are desperate for a break.

The group, which is self-funding, has already received an offer of fundraising by local company AskAlix, an Internet business directory.

Samm's Teesside chairman, Jim Edon, whose son, Carl, was stabbed to death, said: "What we're trying to do is get some sort of retreat or respite for the victims' families. When they've had a court case to go through, or a tragic death, it will be somewhere they can escape to for a week.

"We haven't picked a site yet, but we're looking at somewhere towards the North-East coast, such as Filey or Scarborough, where it's on a quiet part of the site, but there are facilities for youngsters.

"It's a way of getting something for the victims for a change, instead of for the offenders."

Samm secretary June Homer, whose husband, Peter, was shot seven years ago, said: "Not everyone can afford to go on holiday, so a caravan can help new and old victims.

"We couldn't have even looked that far ahead before this company came along and offered to raise the funds for us."

The group is hoping it may have enough to buy an six or eight-berth caravan before the end of the season.

Becky Ketteringham, media sales manager at AskAlix, said: "We chose to raise funds for them because they're a local group and they don't get any money from anywhere else."

Fundraising events will include staff dyeing their hair pink, blue or lilac for a week, and a big auction.

Any donations should be sent to Samm, PO Box 72, Middlesbrough, TS8 OFS