The festive season is typically one of joy and relationships, but for some, it offers only stress, fear and violence.

This is why Hastings and Napier Women's Refuges are asking for support through their Christmas Appeal to help make a safe and magical Christmas for the women and families affected by family violence.

Hastings and Napier Women's Refuges trustee Bronwyn Harman said they are anticipating one of their busiest periods and will be supporting more than 100 women and their families during the Christmas season.

Their two safe houses, as well as their emergency housing service are expected to be at capacity, on top of supporting women in the community either still living with a violent partner, or who have left and are trying to put their lives together again.

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"For women and children escaping domestic violence, the thought of not being at home this Christmas can be distressing. Many will have fled to our safe houses with little more than the clothes on their backs and perhaps their child's favourite toy," Harman said.

They are asking schools, businesses and individuals to support their Christmas Appeal, which will ensure every woman and child in their care receive a Christmas gift.

"My feeling and belief is that people do want to help, they just don't know what they can do, so that is what this appeal is about, is actually going to the community and saying these are the things that the women need."

Woodford House has already donated gifts and local company Mylk Food Store are offering gift vouchers for the public to buy.

Hastings Women's Refuge manager Julie Hart said anything they can do to help alleviate the pressure over Christmas time and bring joy is "always appreciated".

"These gifts that the refuges give out at this time of year are cherished by the women and children who receive them. They are not only excited to actually receive a gift – they are also a gift of kindness which simply shows them that someone cares."

People can help by:

• Joining the PACK THE BUS appeal - where a team from the refuge, Mediaworks and Santa will visit schools or businesses with a bus to pick up any gifts or Christmas treats they may wish to donate
• Going to https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/womens-refuge-christmas-appeal and donate $100 for an INSTANT CHRISTMAS IN A BOX pack for a family. This pack includes a small tree, decorations, wrapping paper and Christmas treats for Christmas Day.

For more information, email hastings.napier.womensrefuges@gmail.com or call 06 8789 519.