There are currently more than 100,000 people without homes in Australia and 44% of them are women. While the tragedy of experiencing homelessness obviously impacts both genders, women and teenage girls are faced with a unique problem when it comes to being able to afford sanitary items. The items that all of us would consider a necessity suddenly become a luxury when you have limited funds.
When Queenslander Rochelle Courtenay first learnt of women getting by using newspaper, toilet paper, or just doing without any protection during their menstrual cycle, she decided to do something about it. Her charity Share the Dignity was founded in 2015 and has made a tremendous impact on the lives of homeless and at-risk women throughout the nation.Share the Dignity’s Christmas appeal is called “It’s in the Bag” — you take a good condition, second hand (or new) handbag and fill it with hygiene necessities. Shampoo, soap or body wash, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, pads and tampons. What seems like a basic shopping list for most transforms into a wonderful gift for someone to receive at Christmas when, quite often, they may have had to flee a situation that has left them with literally nothing. You can also choose to include extra items for your recipient — lip gloss, a hairbrush, perfume, books and magazines add a special touch to your donation!
An important step in acquiring these donations is having volunteers around the country acting as collection points. Angela Brown was a collection point for the It’s in the Bag campaign at the Bindoon Night Markets on 1 December. Along with her own personal donation of 6 bags, and those from the area who took their bags into Bunnings Midland (Bunnings stores were a collection point for the first time this year), the Northern Valleys region made a good contribution to the 2017 campaign.
While the opportunity to contribute to this year’s It’s in the Bag appeal has passed, it’s never too early to start collecting essentials to put aside for next year! Angela has the following advice: “If people are interested in collecting for next year, it’s a good idea to write a list of the essential items and every time they go shopping just buy one item on the list. It soon adds up. It’s also great to watch out for the specials and buy items when they are half price — one for themselves and one for a Christmas Dignity bag.”
Also, keep an eye out for their Dignity Drive campaigns which are run in April and August, collecting sanitary items for donation across the country. You can even register your business as a drop off location for this campaign from January 2018 and help to make a difference like Angela and Rochelle! For more information visit www.sharethedignity.com.au