FUNDRAISING NEWS: Refuge links up with Body Shop

Women's charity Refuge has joined forces with The Body Shop to launch its biggest-ever campaign, with the dual aims of raising funds for a website and banishing taboos surrounding domestic violence.

The charity wants to raise £60,000 to create a website so it can deliver help and advice to more women, after admitting that it can presently answer only one in five of the 150,000 calls made each year to its 24-hour helpline.

The 'Stop violence in the home' campaign launched last Thursday, with a three-week shop-window presence in more than 300 high street stores.

The Body Shop is asking customers to donate mobile phones for recycling and will sell pin badges. Leaflets will also be available in-store during the 12-month campaign.

Claire Woodhill, Refuge's senior fundraiser, said increasing understanding is central to the campaign. "There are myths surrounding domestic violence - that it's associated with alcohol or poverty, for example. The Body Shop leaflet defines domestic violence and talks openly about the issue."

Woodhill describes domestic violence as one of society's last taboos. "We can talk openly now about child abuse, but accusing someone of violence against their partner is a serious matter.

"There's an element of disbelief at the fact that two women are killed each week by their partner or ex-partner. The profile of the issue doesn't reflect its prevalence in society."

Steve McIvor, head of values at The Body Shop, said the retailer's most successful campaigns have been on issues close to customers' hearts. "Domestic violence isn't an easy campaign, but we listen to our customers and talk to them about issues they can relate to. One in four women will experience domestic violence at some point and, every day, abused women will be in our stores. It has a great resonance for us."

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