Women's charities receive £2m to set up unified helpline

Women's Aid and Refuge have received £2m from the Government and Comic Relief to set up a single freephone helpline for female victims of domestic violence.

The intention is to promote one memorable number, though both charities will keep their current lines operating.

The money will be used to establish and advertise the helpline, and to set up a software package providing a comprehensive database of all refuges and services available throughout the UK so that helpline staff can advise callers on where they can get help locally.

The charities already run independent helpline services, but both are unable to answer all calls they receive during peak times. The new service will route calls to one of the charities' call centres, depending on which is best placed to take the call.

The initial funding, which is provided by Comic Relief and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, covers the first three years of the project.

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