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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
Phone fight against home violence
Mobile phone
There are an estimated 17m unused mobile phones in the UK
Old mobile phones are to be recycled into personal alarms for women who suffer violence from their partners.

The scheme, piloted in south London, is to be rolled out to Birmingham, Glasgow, Bristol, Norwich and the rest of London over the next six months.

People will be asked to hand in their old phones to Body Shops in the cities.

They can be converted to allow a direct 999 call at the push of any button, or recycled to raise money for the "Donate a Phone, Save a Life" scheme.

'Living in fear'

The phones will be given to women thought to be at risk of attack.

"Most (at risk) women will know that at some stage they will have to take action," said Nicola Harwin, director of Women's Aid.

"This will be some sort of re-assurance, it is possible to disconnect landlines, but with this help is at the touch of a button."

And Body Shop founder Anita Roddick said the phones would be of immense use when abusers "continue to stalk, continue to threaten - it is really important women feel safe".

Solicitor General Harriet Harman, MP for Camberwell and Peckham, said the scheme was based on practical experience of people working with domestic violence victims.

She told BBC London: "It gives people confidence that they are connected up to an agency that will get help to them.

"They don't have to be suffering on their own, isolated, just living alone with their fear."

The scheme is a partnership between The Body Shop and national domestic violence charity Women's Aid.

It will be launched on Thursday at the Bede Women's Support Centre in Southwark, south London.

Those behind the scheme believe there are up to 17m mobile phone handsets across the UK which are not being used.

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01 Mar 04  |  Health


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