TOILETRIES, sanitary products and old but working mobile phones are some of the items needed to be donated to victims of domestic abuse in the Black Country.

Dudley borough-based organisation Survivors of Domestic Abuse (SODA) has launched a new project called ‘Bag of Life’ to collect items to be donated towards Black Country Women's Aid, Birmingham & Solihull Women's Aid and West Mercia Women's Aid.

Domestic abuse survivor and founder of SODA, Samantha Billingham, said: “I set up SODA in May 2009 as an online support group, after I left my own abusive relationship in November 2006, to help reduce isolation and raise awareness.

“I wanted to do something a little different and more hands on and came up with the idea Bag of Life, so we can give something to those who find the courage and strength to leave their abusive relationship.”

“Our main aim is to prevent domestic abuse from happening, but we also understand how difficult it is to actually leave the relationship.

“Many survivors leave with nothing at all, so we felt that our new and ongoing project would at least give them something.”

The 37-year-old single mum added: “Mobile phones are the biggest controlled thing in abusive relationships so the idea of donating a mobile phone is huge, it prevents the abuser from contacting the survivor persuading them to go back.”

FAB The Salon in Quarry Bank High Street and Fave Rave, in Lower High Street, Stourbridge, are two drop off points where people can take their donations should they want to support the project.

Sarah Alicia Jane Wood, salon owner, said: “FAB The Salon is supporting SODA as we strongly believe in the difference they make to those in need.

“With our huge FAB client base and following we hope to gain a great amount of donations.”

Halesowen News:

For more information about the work of SODA and the Bag of Life campaign visit

Halesowen North councillor Stuart Henley is also supporting the appeal and donations can be left in his front garden at 11 Green Lane, as well as at Stardust Serenity Salon in Long Lane.

Cllr Henley added: “SODA is a very important group to so many out there, especially around this time of year.

“Personally I have seen domestic abuse in my family, which broke it up many years ago and saw me living rough and sofa surfing for a while, so to help out on this project is a great honour.