A groundbreaking centre to support women in West Cumbria has celebrated the official opening of its beauty salon.

The Women Out West Centre gives women affected by domestic abuse a chance to train in beauty.

The centre, at Haig Enterprise Park, Kells, also has facilities including interview suites, a laundry room, social areas and private one-to-one spaces.

It is designed to help women in all kinds of circumstances, from victims of domestic violence, to those affected by separation or divorce, women living in poverty or on low incomes, to those who want to set up their own businesses.

Rachel Holliday, who has led the project, celebrated her 40th birthday on the day of the salon opening.

She said: “It’s such a great feeling to spend my 40th birthday with all these wonderful ladies who we have got to know over the past couple of months and years.

“I’m so excited our salon is finally opening today. I’m looking forward to me and my little girl Layla having our hair done and feeling like proper princesses.”

The centre, which opened in June, supported 48 women during its first month, and from September, it will be open full-time with two full-time members of staff being taken on.

Ms Holliday said: “Surprisingly, in the first month of June we had 48 women through the doors. I always knew there was a need but I honestly didn’t realise to what extent.”

Kathryn Renney, of Hair Supplies Ltd in Whitehaven, who helped get the salon ready for opening, said: “It’s been great fun doing it.”

Julieanne Kelly, fundraiser for the Women Out West Centre, said: “Happy Birthday, Rachel! Women Out West is an amazing facility. I know how dedicated Rachel and Jo are. Since it’s opened there’s been lots of ladies come through the door. It’s fantastic.

“If anyone does need support, please come and visit us. We really need donations to keep the project running, so if anyone wants to raise money, get in touch.”

Anyone interested in fundraising should contact Julieanne Kelly on 07722589859.