Changing Lives has been awarded £45,295 in extra funding to help protect the growing number of people who are experiencing sexual exploitation and violence in the North East.

The money is being distributed by the country’s police and crime commissioners and in Northumbria, the Gateshead-based national charity has received £25,250 from Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness.

This funding, which is to help victims through the Covid-19 pandemic, is being used to support the work of the Girls Are Proud (GAP) and Male Action Project (MAP) projects which provide pro-active outreach and in-reach work with victims, offering both emotional and practical support.

The Durham Police and Crime Commissioner has also awarded £25,045 to the charity to help victims who have been referred to the charity by police, the probation service, social services, and other charities.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “I know just how tough it’s been. For far too many victims, lockdown has made them all the more vulnerable – the abuse, the suffering, they’ve been put through hell. And the organisations desperate to help them have faced huge struggles too.

“Right from the start of this pandemic I was calling for this funding and, when we got it, I was so pleased to be able to help towards keeping things up and running at Changing Lives. It’s an incredible organisation that we need now more than ever to step in, to take care of, and to rescue those in need.”

Steve White, Acting Police Crime & Victims’ Commissioner for Durham said: “Despite these challenging times, support organisations have adapted to deliver services during Covid-19 and we are delighted that we are able to assist by providing funding to Changing Lives to provide support to women who are victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse”.

The money is part of the Ministry of Justice’s £76m package of additional funding to help vulnerable victims through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the additional funding, Changing Lives has an unprecedented waiting list for its support services in the Northumbria police force area. The charity has launched an emergency Covid-19 funding appeal which people can support online or by texting CORONA10 to 70450 to donate £10 to the appeal.