A TEENAGER from Winnington is preparing to run the distance of a marathon in support of a specialist domestic violence charity which is close to his heart.

Joe Connelly knows first-hand the devastating impact domestic abuse can have on families after he and his siblings witnessed their mum suffering as a victim.

Thankfully, she made a full recovery after being admitted to hospital because of her injuries, but Joe knows that other victims are not always so lucky.

That is why he will be running a distance of more than 26 miles around Marbury Park in July, to highlight the vital work that the charity does for those affected.

“I’m doing this challenge in order to raise money for Refuge - a charity which provides specialist support for families affected by domestic violence,” said the 16-year-old.

“I was originally going to do a bike ride but thought that running instead would be more of a challenge, especially as I’m hoping to join the army, so it will help to build my fitness up.

“Domestic violence has massively impacted my whole family, as my mum was a victim of abuse and my family were witness to this.

“One night, a detrimental event occurred which resulted in my mum being taken to hospital with a critical injury.

“She made a full physical recovery, however the mental scars remain with my family and always will.”

Joe says that the event has had a significant mental impact on himself, his brother and his sister.

In the six years since it happened, he says that he has grown up a lot, which has enabled him to process what went on and understand the true impact that it has had on him and his family.

“I’ve suffered with this massively and it will remain somewhere in my mind every day,” Joe added.

“Despite the battle with mental health that my close family has fought, we now stand together stronger as one and with a unity like no other.

“I wish for no child to experience this, and Refuge ensures that mothers and children have a safe escape from domestic violence.

“My story is just one of millions, and other people may not be so lucky in the fact that my mum is still alive today.

“Please let me be the voice of these unheard stories and donate to help those like me.”

If you would like to support Joe ahead of his challenge and would like to donate to Refuge, visit gofundme.com/f/201fni4w00.

Support from Refuge for victims and those affected by domestic abuse is available via refuge.org.uk.