The new Miss Cumbria is raising awareness of domestic violence and encouraging victims to seek help.

Lauren Sweeney, 21, from Carlisle was crowned last month at a ceremony in the city.

Her campaigning included raising awareness of the issues many young people have with body image.

Now Lauren has turned her attention to another troubling subject.

"I really didn't expect to win," she said. "I told myself that if I did, I'd do the best I can to make sure I'm a memorable Miss Cumbria.

"I was trying to think of a campaign that not many people speak about. My last campaign, body image: a lot of people speak about that. With domestic violence people can be more reluctant as it's such a hard thing to open up about.

"With my body image campaign, I've been through that myself. I wanted to do a campaign about something that I haven't really been through so I get to know more about it.

"It's to raise awareness and try and prevent domestic violence in all cases such as relationships, kids and parents. It's about the scars domestic abuse can make mentally and physically. Bruises might go. Mental scars remain."

Lauren's campaign is called Clear the Bruises. Its early stages include a photo and video shoot with fellow campaigner and former Miss Cumbria Claire Bell.

Lauren's friends and previous Miss Cumbria finalists are also having #clearthebruises written on their arms and are sharing the images on social media.

"If anyone is out there going through something like this, I want them to see the campaign and think someone is trying to raise awareness and do something.

"If I was in that situation, I would feel good that someone is thinking about it.

"They might see it and think 'I'm going through that', which they might not have realised.

"If it's someone you love, a partner or a parent, some people are brainwashed, in awe of this person. They make you believe it's normal and it's your fault that they're snapping and being abusive.

"I would urge people to get help as quickly as possible. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. If they don't feel they can go to the police they can go to charities and support services."

Lauren and Claire Bell are both taking part in the semi-final of Miss England, in Burnley on June 16.

All contestants are asked to raise funds for Beauty With A Purpose - a charity that helps disadvantaged children worldwide - and young suicide prevention charity Papyrus.

Lauren's fundraisers include a raffle, a quiz night and car boot sales.

On May 26 she will also be hostess at the Big Wig Ball at Skitby House, Smithfield, in aid of Carlisle's Jigsaw children’s hospice.

Lauren, who is in the final year of a performing arts degree at Chester University, also volunteers at Eden Valley Hospice every week, as well as supporting Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland.

For more about her campaign see the ‘Lauren Sweeney Miss England Semi Finalist 2019’ Facebook page.