This week the University of Bolton had the honour of hosting a very special event for Fortalice, in which 40 years of providing refuge and frontline services for women, families, children and young people affected by domestic abuse were celebrated.

Fortalice is the only refuge and place of safety for women and children in Bolton and is a beacon of excellence to be cherished and encouraged to thrive. Fortalice, whose name was derived from the French word meaning a small fort – a place of safety, has taken in 3,199 women and 3,494 children as residents at the refuge during the last 40 years. They offer a range of services for adults that help support and accommodate abused women to help them to regain their lives and self-respect and children’s services that provide a safe place for children offering them the chance to grow up without fear.

The event consisted of opening remarks from the Chair of Fortalice, Diane Hawkins, followed by insights from several guest speakers; Maxine Peake, Patron of Fortalice; Cllr Dr Linda Thomas, Deputy Leader of Bolton Council; Baroness Helen Newlove, Victims’ Commissioner and John Lord, CEO Bolton at Home. The guest speakers were followed by the ‘Survivors’ Presentation – From Darkness into Light’ – in which an incredibly beautiful and powerful rendition of Robbie William’s ‘I love my life’ was sang by several Fortalice survivors.

Gill Smallwood, the Chief Executive of Fortalice said; “This event is a celebration of all the success stories of the women and children who have come through Fortalice services. I would like to express my thanks to all the people who have supported us and continue to help ensure that victims can live a life free from domestic abuse and violence.”

As well as the speakers’ presentation, the event hosted several static displays depicting all the various elements of the services they provide, ranging from ‘Mental Health and Substance Misuse’ to ‘Outreach Support Centre Early Intervention’ and ‘Outreach Support Centre- Children & Young Persons Services’.

The University of Bolton was extremely proud to support such a wonderful and successful event and would like to wish Fortalice and their invaluable services, the best of luck for the future.
For more information please visit or ring the 24-hour contact line on 01204 701846.
Article by: Francesca Bury

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