“Our campaign, ‘Dignity after Distress’ is helping vulnerable women maintain some dignity by keeping the bathrooms and cupboards of refugees stocked up with beauty products so that they can at least take a hot shower and use some decent products whilst keeping personal hygiene private without feeling more degraded.”
Most women can recall a moment in their lives when their period caught them off guard. There is a very specific feeling associated with panic buying sanitary towels in a corner shop or trying to identify who you’re closest to in the office so that you can ask for a tampon.
For survivors of domestic abuse, the process of rebuilding their lives can be undignified for many reasons. Having to rely on others financially, allowing private and personal issues to become somewhat public, and taking
Elle for Elle is a Manchester based charity, created by Lynette Page-Collin and Rachel O’Hare. The pair birthed the idea in a moment of realisation when considering how much makeup they had, and how they took it for granted. On a mission to donate their excess care products, they searched for charities that would accept donations and distribute them to women’s refuges, where they could make a huge impact on someone’s life.
Upon realising both that there was nothing of the sort available and that women often resort to petty theft for things like sanitary products and concealer to cover bruises, the pair took action and created Elle for Elle. The organisation provides moments of dignity for women in refuges, by supplying them with good quality care products which eliminate period worry, build confidence and allow for elements of normality within these women’s lives.
Lynette and Rachel believe that this is not a private problem, but a public one. In a recent trip to Westminster, they were praised by Steve Coppard, Interim Deputy Director Cross-Government Debt Policy & Strategy at the Cabinet Office, who said that, “The government made a commitment to help the most vulnerable indebted people through its recent Joint Statement on Fairness with the advice sector.
“The work that Elle for Elle does not only provides moments of dignity for those in desperate situations, but also starts to expose some of the more challenging elements of life in a woman’s refuge, including the vulnerable position that survivors of economic abuse find themselves in, especially in relation to moving forward into their own homes with the added stresses of debt arrears.”
For women and girls who survive domestic violence and find themselves in refuges, there are many issues that torment their day to day lives than the rest of us would usually care to consider. Debt and financial abuse are two of the biggest yet most unknown symptoms of domestic abuse, according to Elle for Elle.
“Often domestic violence victims will find upon leaving their home that they cannot move forward because of the three month deposit and credit checks. Our chat with Steve was to help him understand that domestic abuse victims fall into the government’s fairness plans.”
In highlighting a governmental responsibility to look after the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of the vulnerable in society, Rachel emphasises how damaging it can be to arrive at a refuge with nothing.
“Often fleeing from domestic abuse with small children, having to ask for a tooth brush or sanitary wear is the last bit of dignity that these women may lose”, she said.
“It’s incredible what a difference a lipstick and a little make-up can make to these vulnerable women,” said Lynette.
“It’s such a simple mechanic but has large and long-lasting results in terms of improving their self-confidence. This, in turn, can help them get back into employment, and start the journey to standing on their own two feet again.”
To date, they have donated well over 20,000 cosmetic products to vulnerable women around the UK. Next up, they’re looking at putting women and girls through beauty training so that they have a skill to earn from and educate themselves in, with their campaign be.you.ty.
To donate packages, or send unused products to Elle for Elle, click here. The pair make a point of donating to women’s refuges directly, so that products are never filtered down.