A popular Radio 4 soap has seen its fans join together and raise thousands of pounds for the domestic violence charity Refuge.
A long running story line within The Archers sees character Helen Titchener suffer domestic abuse at the hands of her controlling husband.
Many listeners have been extremely touched by this particular storyline and during the show social media is full of support for Helen, along with encouragement for her to speak out. One fan in particular, Paul Trueman went a step further and set up the Helen Titchener Rescue Fund that has so far raised over £20,000, with the figure continuing to rise.
During Tuesday night’s episode of the show, Helen Titchener tries to escape with her young son after suffering endless abuse from her husband, including sexual and emotional abuse. The husbands control becomes more and more evident as the soap develops, leading to Helen becoming unwillingly pregnant.
Commenting on his reasons for deciding to set up an online donation page, Paul Trueman commented:
"It’s part of an entertainment show but a lot of people can’t switch the radio off and go back to their normal lives, it’s real for them," he said.
"Having listened to quite an emotional episode where it became clear that the character was trying to escape from the relationship, if it was real you would have to jump in your car, drive round and get your friend out of there. I thought 'what if we did a rescue fund and raise the money for real women'.
"It took about ten minutes to set up the page, the best 10 minutes I have ever spent. And the money just started rushing in."
The appeal states, “for every fictional Helen, there are real ones” and will now provide invaluable support to women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. Refuge offer a range of services, including a national domestic advice helpline and outreach services, ensuring access to professional support is available no matter what the situation may be.
If you too would like to donate to the charity, you can visit the Just Giving page here.