Northern Ireland

Domestic abuse: South Belfast garden for victims

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Media captionOne woman who escaped an abusive relationship a year and a half ago said the garden means a lot to her

A new garden has been created for female victims of domestic abuse and their children in south Belfast.

Women's Aid designed and planted the garden with the help of domestic abuse survivors and community volunteers.

The space was formerly a disused area, but has been transformed and the charity hopes it will be a place of reflection.

One woman who escaped an abusive relationship a year and a half ago said the garden means a lot to her.

"My very first time coming in here the word I could use, I felt safe.

Image caption The garden is intended as a quiet place for reflection and conversation

"I've always liked gardening, I find that gardening is like a sanctuary for me where I can get away and think things over."

She added: "Some people might think it's just a garden and they're pottering about, but we all get good and bad days and at least you can come out and sit and reflect. If there are other people sitting out here you can share things with each other and help support each other."

Women's Aid have called the new space the nurture garden and believe it will connect women and children to nature and help them heal in the process.

Image caption A flower mural had added to the calming atmosphere of the garden

Lucie Cullinane, project co-ordinator at Women's Aid in south Belfast, said: "I think it's really just a place for women to take a bit of time out from whatever else is going on in their lives and be involved in the growing process as well."

She added: "It's important to meet other people who have maybe been through similar experiences to them.

"We really want to bring out the therapeutic aspect of just sitting in the garden, putting in a seed and being able to see it transform into a wildflower or vegetables."

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