BOLTON’S refuge for women and youngsters escaping domestic violence is asking local people to help them replace vital play equipment that helps its often traumatised children.

Equipment that is now 10 years old was moved from the old refuge to the grounds of the new one Lewis House, run by Fortalice, when it was opened in Farnworth six years ago.

This has now rotted due to weather damage and is too dangerous to use.

Team leader Paula Pollitt said it would cost £24,000 to improve the play area.

The charity wants to work with award-winning creative company Cool Canvas to provide five play zones with equipment made from natural resources to cope better with the elements.

Each zone would cater for the needs of youngsters from early years to teenagers.

Mrs Pollitt said: “Having access to outdoor play provision is essential for our children and young people in the refuge.

“Many of them are unable to access community facilities like local parks for safety reasons and to minimise the risk of being identified.”

The refuge has 22 self-contained flats with a capacity for up to 70 children and is always full.

Mrs Pollitt said: “The children who enter the refuge have frequently left behind all that is familiar to them — their family, friends, school and personal possessions like toys.

“Having a safe, challenging and enjoyable area to play in is essential to help the children and young people move forward.”

Emma Davies, wife of former Bolton Wanderers star Kevin Davies, has already confirmed the couple’s charity, KiDS of Bolton, will donate £5,000.

This will pay for the installation of one zone. And the Irwell Valley Housing Association has also offered to help as have two local primary schools. Gill Smallwood, director of services for Fortalice, said: “Unfortunately, the full amount for the new play equipment needs to be found as quickly as possible because the children now have no equipment to play on and this is a vital resource.”

As one refuge resident with children aged eight, five, four and one, said: “The children really benefit from a lovely play area. It makes such a difference to them to play outside and mix with other kids.”

Anyone who would like to help can contact Fortalice on 01204 701846.