Pompey footballers take time-out to visit Leigh Park domestic abuse group

Pompey players visited a group session in Leigh Park for young people run by Southern Domestic Abuse Service
Pompey players visited a group session in Leigh Park for young people run by Southern Domestic Abuse Service
Alex Wardle, from Lee-on-the-Solent, collapsed at home and tragically died in March 2016, aged 23. 

From left: Alex's father, Stephen Wardle, sister Gemma Wardle, Alex Wardle and his mother, Denise Wardle.

Gosport family to keep Alex’s legacy alive by taking part in Great South Run

  • Charity says one in five children in local community may be exposed to domestic violence
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POMPEY players have met with young survivors of domestic abuse.

The footballers visited Southern Domestic Abuse Service’s A19 Group in Leigh Park.

A19 is a youth group that supports young people aged from nine to 16 years old who have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse.

It offers them a chance to have fun and socialise with others who have had the same experiences.

The visitors included Natasha Stephens, Ben Tollitt and Ben Close – all current Portsmouth players – and Clare Darlow, who helps co-ordinate and run Pompey’s charitable work.

Claire Chatwin, chief executive of the Havant-based service, said: ‘The players stayed for the entire group and put on a very interesting workshop which included a question and answer section.

‘They all engaged very well with all of the young survivors and spent the rest of the session joining in with the activities provided – including table tennis, balloon-making and card tricks.

‘Natasha Stephens has offered to run a football training session for the group in the new year.’

Lee Marshall, a ‘boys to men’ worker for SDAS, said: ‘The visitors who came today were a credit to Portsmouth Football Club and a pleasure to meet.’

SDAS, which used to be Havant Women’s Refuge, has expanded its remit in recent years and now offers refuge accommodation, children’s services and group work across Havant, Fareham, Gosport and East Hampshire.

Mrs Chatwin said children getting caught up in domestic violence was a problem that was not going away.

Mrs Chatwin added: ‘It is so important that young people get to spend time with both male and positive role models.

‘One in five children living in our local communities have been exposed to domestic abuse and it is important that groups like A19 are available.’