VULNERABLE women and their children who suffer abuse from their partners are to benefit from a new support centre in Crewe.
The Lily Jones Support Centre is named in honour of the founder and first manager of the Crewe Women's Refuge, who died in 2003.
More than 60 guests, including Crewe and Nantwich MP Gwyneth Dunwoody, Mayor of Crewe and Nantwich Maurice Jones and his wife, Ann, and Deputy Mayor Margaret Martin, watched as Mrs Jones' husband Chris Jones opened the new support centre at a location in Crewe, 25 years after the first women's refuge was opened in the area.
Crewe suffers the highest rates of domestic violence against women in the whole of Cheshire but management committee chairwoman Deborah Darnes said the centre would provide valuable support to vulnerable women from all over the county.
She added: 'The centre will give us a lot more scope because there's not a lot of room at the refuge.
'It will allow women to have somewhere to go, besides the refuge, where they can feel safe, use the crèche facilities and have aromatherapy to help them relax. Now, we will be able to do more for them.'
She added that there was definitely a need for the new centre.
'Sadly, the need is everywhere, not just in Crewe. It is important because we get women from other parts of Cheshire as well who maybe don't feel comfortable remaining in the town they're from,' she said.
Mrs Darnes, who has been a volunteer with Women's Aid in other parts of the country, added that the service had become much more professional over the last 25 years, and that it will soon be able to help women in their own homes once they move out of the refuge.
The mayor, Cllr Jones, said: 'I think in any area, and Crewe is no different, there are cases of abuse towards women and it's fantastic that the new centre is being opened to help more women in need.'