Dame Julie Walters opens women's charity centre in Bognor

Four-time Bafta-winning star Dame Julie Walters officially opened My Sister's House's new centre in Bognor Regis this afternoon (Friday).

My Sister's House CIC Women's Centre, which was celebrating its fifth anniversary, works across West Sussex, helping women and girls with 'multiple disadvantages' and problems including violence, abuse, poverty and mental health.

Dame Julie Walters DBE and Julie Budge, founder and CEO of My Sisters' House. Photo: Sarah Standing

Dame Julie Walters DBE and Julie Budge, founder and CEO of My Sisters' House. Photo: Sarah Standing

Women's Aid patron Dame Julie Walters spoke to the Observer after opening the charities' new centre.

She said: "I feel privileged to open this centre.

"It is wonderful work that they do here. We are very lucky to have it here in West Sussex.

"It feels very special."

My Sisters' House CIC Women's Centre in London Road, Bognor Regis, celebrated their 5th anniversary with Dame Julie Walters DBE officially opening their new centre building. Photo: Sarah Standing

My Sisters' House CIC Women's Centre in London Road, Bognor Regis, celebrated their 5th anniversary with Dame Julie Walters DBE officially opening their new centre building. Photo: Sarah Standing

Julie said she received the invitation to visit the centre in the form of a letter from the charity's CEO and founder Julie Budge, who said that everyone was 'spellbound' by the special guest appearance.

She added: "To have had the honour of Julie being here is just awesome and makes the day extra special. We have had the most exciting day.

"Being able to introduce Julie to all my staff and the team was a lovely treat for them. It was a very special day."

We also spoke to one of the women who are supported by My Sister's House, who said Julie's visit was kept a secret from the staff and service users.

Dame Julie Walters DBE and Julie Budge, founder and CEO of My Sisters' House. Photo: Sarah Standing

Dame Julie Walters DBE and Julie Budge, founder and CEO of My Sisters' House. Photo: Sarah Standing

Naomi, 40, said: "It was so amazing. We were very excited.

"It was kept a secret from all of us, we had no idea.

"She was really great to talk to."

Naomi, who fled domestic violence before seeking support, said My Sister's House 'becomes your family'.

Dame Julie Walters DBE. Photo: Sarah Standing

Dame Julie Walters DBE. Photo: Sarah Standing

She added: "It is completely life changing.

"Fleeing domestic violence is leaving everything and everyone you know.

"The people here have become a new family."

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne was among the other guests who attended the opening.

Katy, whose office provided My Sister's House a grant of £80,000, said: "As well as my role as PCC, I support local organisations.

"This is a wonderful centre for a charity which is vital in our community. They help and support victims of domestic abuse."

On Julie Walters, she added: "It was fantastic that we had someone of such a high profile, who cares for the community, to open the centre."