Famous women change their names to make Refuge's helpline go viral

Twitter takeover aims to ensure as many women as possible learn number of helpline.

Refuge: helpline number will appear on Piccadilly Lights
Refuge: helpline number will appear on Piccadilly Lights

Refuge is launching a campaign on International Women’s Day to make the National Domestic Abuse Helpline famous. 

The campaign, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty London, will see high-profile women, such as Lorraine Kelly, Miranda Hart, Little Mix and Emeli Sandéchange their names on Twitter to the helpline’s number: 0808 2000 247. By leveraging the collective force of social media users, Refuge hopes that Twitter feeds will be flooded with the number and as many women as possible will learn it. 

In addition, the number will take over Europe’s largest outdoor advertising site, Piccadilly Lights in London, at midday today (Sunday). A series of bespoke 10-second idents, featuring a voiceover from actor and Refuge patron Olivia Colman, will run throughout the day on TV. The campaign aims to reach women from all walks of life across the UK. 

It was created by Stephanie Flynn, Olivia Shortland and Oliver Short. Ocean Outdoor, Sky and A&E Networks donated media space, while the media agency is Electric Glue. 

Domestic abuse affects nearly one in three women in the UK. Almost half the number of adult female murder victims last year were killed in a domestic homicide, according to Refuge.

Since November 2019, Refuge has been the sole operator of the helpline and a new domestic-abuse website. The number is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, offering free, confidential support. The helpline team logs an average of 270 calls and contacts on a daily basis. 

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said: "Refuge’s freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline is at the heart of how this country responds to domestic abuse – it is a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of women across the country. 

"0808 2000 247 is a number that every woman should know. Today, International Women’s Day, Refuge and an amazing band of high-profile women will work to make this a reality. Women’s lives depend on it."