Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness is urging those who are worried about someone’s relationship not to turn a blind eye and to call Findaway for advice.

Sunderland-based charity Wearside Women in Need has set-up the Findaway project this year specifically to help concerned mums, dads, friends and colleagues – as research has revealed 62 per cent of survivors tell a friend or family member about the abuse before telling anyone else.

For many, Christmas is about spending more time with family and friends, meaning abusive relationships sometimes come to light during this time. Others, however, are stopped from seeing their families at all, which can be another red flag for concerned relatives.

Historically, domestic abuse rates rise during the festive period and experts fear this year numbers will be made even worse, as situations are impacted by the cost-of-living crisis.

If alarm bells are ringing, it’s vital those who people turn to for support have access to support themselves, says Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner who is backing the innovative project, along with her Violence Reduction Unit.

Findaway is there to equip family members and friends with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed so they can support loved ones who choose to confide in them.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said: “We all know someone affected by domestic abuse – and importantly, we can all help. So, my message to people is to keep a look out for it. And if there are things that worry you, Findaway is there to help you too.

“It’s a unique service in that it’s there to support the people around the victim and by doing so we hope that help soon reaches the victim too. We are very lucky to have such a ground-breaking, dedicated service like this in the North East and I’m proud that our region is recognising this need and is leading the way.

“If you’re a worried mum, dad, sister, whatever, – members of the team at Findaway are just on the other end of the phone. They’re there to listen to you, and to provide you with information, understanding and options, so you can decide how best to support the person you’re worried about. It’s anonymous; it’s confidential. People often say they worry about the repercussions – and they don’t want to make things worse. Well, this helpline aims to take that worry away and support the supporter. I want to thank Findaway for bringing this idea to life – this is a crucial way of reaching victims with the help they need.”

Findaway Project Co-ordinator Ciara Barrett Smith, said: “We know that people who are in controlling and potentially dangerous relationships usually tell their families and friends before they ask for help from specialist services. We believe that you, as families, friends and community members, are best placed to offer support and have an important role to play in helping people subjected to abuse. We also recognise that you may need support, information and other tools to effectively help the people you care about. We want to work with you to make this happen. Together we can find a way.”

The types of red flags, Findaway says family and friends can look out for this Christmas are:
·       Their partner tries to stop your loved one from spending time with other people
·       They monitor your loved one’s texts, calls, and location
·       They blame their partner for everything
·       Their relationship seems to be moving really fast


If you’re worried someone you know is being controlled, scared, or hurt by their partner, ex-partner, or family member – you can speak to a trained advisor on 0300 140 0061.

During the festive period, the Findaway anonymous phoneline will be running on reduced hours. However, if we’re unable to answer straight away please leave a voicemail and a member of the team be able to call you back at a time convenient to you (including evenings and weekends).

You can also visit the Findaway website for more information on red flags and how to support someone you’re worried about:

If you feel you may be on the wrong path and want support around your behaviour you can contact the national helpline Respect 0808 802 4040 (Monday to Friday 9am-8pm).

Anyone who is victim of abuse can contact police via the ‘Report an incident’ page on our website or by calling 101. If you are in immediate danger, always call 999.

You can also find out more information on our website – just search ‘Domestic Abuse Northumbria Police’.