A FOUNDATION leader, social media activist and domestic abuse survivor is looking for people to use the thousands of donations she has gathered.

Lizzie Darling, 25, moved to Basingstoke in April, saying she did so to get away from an abusive relationship. She grew up in Andover, and brought her two boys, aged one and two, back to Hampshire to be closer to her family.

Since then, she has helped her youngest son through a serious illness, moved into her own home and created a foundation to help survivors of domestic abuse.

After going through refuges and the support system, she started her foundation to fill the gaps she saw.

She said: “I don’t wish my past on anyone, but it happened to me to put me in this place. It made me want to help people, and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Lizzie has used social media, blogs and videos to reach out to people and build an online community of support.

She has started collecting donations for people in refuges, putting together ‘darling boxes’ of children’s clothes and car seats to help people be independent. Now, she has more than she can store.

She said: “I can’t afford to spend nearly £100 a month on garages, when all my money is going into the foundation and helping me live. Even if social services showed up with two lorries tomorrow and took every donation, that would be fine.

“It’s bagged, it’s boxed, it’s clean, it just needs somewhere to go. It’s better someone is using it than it just sitting in a garage. I’ve had to turn away probably £5000 in donations I couldn’t take.”

The foundation also helps Lizzie stay optimistic. She added: “One time I was at a refuge in Alton, where somebody had came in with their seven-year-old and 17-month-old on a Friday afternoon.

“They helped her settle in, and said she would enjoy getting to know the other people in the refuge.

“Then they left her. She looked in the kitchen cupboards and she only had five tins of beans. She couldn’t get any more food from them, because nobody was around for the weekend.

“I asked the online community for help, telling people what happened. The next morning, we had two big vans of food donations, with meat, fresh food, everything.

“She said to us, ‘you’ve saved mine and my children’s lives.’ And I thought ‘I’m always going to remember this’.

“We have the donations, and we have people’s support. I know loads of people who want to help. What I need is money to do more, and to be recognised as a charity.”

“This is what I want to do, but without funding I will be out of money early next year.

Over the next year, Lizzie says she will do whatever is needed to get better established and recognised, and to have a bigger reach.

“If the council and others could get behind me, it would grow the foundation, get the charity status and help us do more. I’m willing to take whatever steps I need to.

“To make a difference, you just have to believe.”

The Darling Foundation can be contacted on 07850 446189.