Stoke & Staffordshire

New Year Honours 2019: MBE for abuse survivor who helped 30,000

Kathy Coe Image copyright Kathy Coe
Image caption Kathy Coe believes refuges for abuse victims are vital

An abuse survivor who set up a domestic violence helpline from her spare room has been appointed MBE after she helped more than 30,000 other victims.

Kathy Coe, from Burntwood, Staffordshire, set up Pathway Project in 1993 to help sufferers of abuse.

"There were very few services when I finally managed to escape," she said, prompting her decision to make sure other survivors had better support.

The 66-year-old has been recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

Image copyright Kathy Coe
Image caption Pathway Project supports up to 20 families at any one time

"Domestic abuse was hidden," Ms Coe said.

"We were told it didn't really happen, but people just didn't come forward because they knew there wasn't any help.

"I remember thinking the only way out was if one of us died, I thought, 'should I kill myself?' but I couldn't because of the children."

'Horrible experience'

Her services to victims started small - a helpline she ran out of her spare bedroom in Lichfield from 1993 - but she has now supported more than 30,000 people.

It was difficult, she said, because "I was facing all the things I'd gone through on a daily basis".

"But it was therapeutic to do something positive with such a horrible experience."

Image copyright Kathy Coe
Image caption Ms Coe works with Staffordshire Police to raise awareness of domestic abuse

The following year, she opened her first refuge. "It was very small, a three-bedroom bungalow, but it was a start."

In 25 years, she has noticed changes and said pressure on other services means the charity sees an increasing number of people struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse as well as younger victims - some just 13 years old.

Other honours recipients from Staffordshire include:

  • Debra Ann Hazeldine, a campaigner for Cure the NHS, appointed MBE for services to patient safety
  • Neil Baldwin, a former Stoke City kit man and mascot and whose life story was adapted for Bafta-winning film Marvellous, awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the community
  • Karen Dobson, principal at Newcastle and Stafford College Group, appointed OBE for services to further education
  • Mary Nichols appointed MBE for services to the community after 30 years as a councillor and 25 years as chair of Longdon's over-60s social club.

If you, or someone you know, have been affected by domestic abuse or violence, you can find help here.

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