How did you come up with the idea? The challenge with Refuge is always how to get a message to as many women as possible with a budget of precisely nothing. After the initial toys-out-the-pram moment, this is actually kind of liberating.
We thought that, if we could convince a mainstream broadcaster to partner with us, we could do something during its show rather than pay for media during a break, hopefully catching viewers off guard. Loose Women seemed a neat fit with the charity. Its chatty presenters talk to hundreds of thousands of women every day. One in four women experience domestic violence, so we figured that one of the four Loose Women presenters should deliver our message. Though it took a bit of time to figure out exactly what we would do.
How did you get in touch with Jamelia? We contacted ITV about a year ago with a few ideas, most of which were rubbish. Luckily, they liked the intent, gave us time and, most importantly, some tickets to Loose Women, which is obviously something every bloke dreams of.
We found a clip of Jamelia talking about how alone she felt during an abusive relationship and realised straight away what we should do. ITV spoke to Jamelia on our behalf. She was very brave and immediately wanted to be involved.
How did you persuade Loose Women to let you change the programme format? ITV loved the idea, so persuading them to do the segment wasn’t too tricky. Figuring out the logistics of how it would work took some time and meant us getting used to the last-minute nature of daytime TV. We didn’t know right until it went live exactly how everything would play out.
What was the response? The response was overwhelming; it really seemed to touch a nerve with viewers. We managed to crash the Refuge website, which is always nice. It was kind of bittersweet watching people’s reactions on social media because, while you’re happy that it’s making an impact and people are getting behind it, it also brings home just how many people domestic violence affects.