ISOLATED women in North Yorkshire's rural communities will have new protection against domestic violence with an innovative project that has won a £230,000 boost from the Home Office.

Domestic violence specialists will work with health, education and social services professionals and local residents throughout York and North Yorkshire to develop a support network for victims, helping abused women to protect themselves and their children.

The project has been developed by the NSPCC in partnership with other groups including the police and local councils.

David Radford, the NSPCC's children's services manager for York and North Yorkshire, said: "Many people are still reluctant to intervene in domestic violence issues because they wrongly consider it to be a private family issue.

"Working in partnership with other agencies we want to break that taboo and make domestic violence a community issue in York and North Yorkshire.

"We want domestic violence to be acknowledged, talked about and acted upon to reduce the isolation that traps many women in abusive relationships."

A pilot network will be launched at a York school in November and the Home Office cash will enable similar projects to be set up throughout York and North Yorkshire during 2001-02.