The Archers and Refuge

Along with the rest of the nation, Refuge was gripped by The Archers’ domestic violence storyline. Helen Titchener had been experiencing domestic abuse at the hands of her husband Rob for years. When she decided to leave him, Rob urged Helen to kill herself and lunged for her son, Henry, resulting in Helen – fearing for her own life and that of her son – stabbing her perpetrator.

In February 2016, Refuge supporter and fan of The Archers Paul Trueman set up The Helen Titchener Fund – a Just Giving page to show solidarity with the fictional character and raise funds for Refuge, in order to support real-life Helens.

Refuge used The Archers’ storyline and Paul’s Fund to raise unprecedented awareness of domestic violence, as well as incredble amounts of money to go towards Refuge’s frontline services, which at the time supported 3,800 women and children on any given day.

The impact

Raising funds - The ArchersRecord fundraising

More than 8,000 individuals donated over £160,000 – a figure that continues to rise – making The Helen Titchener Fund the biggest fundraising effort from ordinary people in Refuge’s history

Raising awareness

Refuge shared key messages in ‘real time’, as Rob Titchener’s abuse escalated. Through Twitter and Facebook, Refuge shared with new audiences how to spot the signs of domestic abuse, how to access support and how to help a friend

Helpline increaseMore women getting support

This had a tangible impact on our services – the National Domestic Violence Helpline, which Refuge runs with Women’s Aid, experienced a 17% increase in calls as the storyline intensified

Archers mediaWidespread media coverage

Refuge and Paul Trueman gained widespread media coverage of the Fund, allowing Refuge to share its messaging on domestic violence in every national newspaper, on the BBC Breakfast sofa and on Woman’s Hour