Cherie Blair opens new centre for women

Cherie Blair Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Cherie Blair has been on Teesside to officially open centres which provide specialist support for women who are homeless and those fleeing domestic violence.

The developments by Endeavour Housing Association offer advice and training to help up to 26 women gain the strength and independence they need to move on.

Natalie and her 14-month old son, Keane, moved in three months ago after struggling to find a stable home. She is now learning how to run a house, manage a budget and other skills she needs to survive on her own.

Within the development, there is also a refuge for women and children who have left an abusive relationship. Run by the domestic abuse charity Harbour Support Services, it offers 14 flats and any support families need.

"Many years ago obviously refuges were all communal but now we've got 14 units of accommodation. They have all got their own front doors but encased inside the building for safety. We've also got a children's room. For me, this accommodation says to me very loudly that we value you and we're prepared to help."

Mrs Blair, the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, is Patron of the charity Refuge which helps victims of abuse and says she is honoured to have been invited to officially open the centres in Middlesbrough.