In a time of endless austerity, I am regularly overwhelmed by how giving some women are in order to improve the lives of others. Whether it's loaning prom dresses to young women who may not be able to afford them, to simply giving up your day off work to trudge around Homebase picking up indoor plants (hey Mum), the ways in which women give form many different shapes and sizes, but those sacrifices are sacrifices nonetheless. And so today, I wanted to do something a little different.
Rather than shoving my latest suit in your face or harping on and on about ~ P e R s O n A l I t Y ~ in writing, I wanted to share 5 women-led initiatives that deserve your support right now. Whilst this post was relatively quick to write in terms of the word count, it took a long while to track down organisations which I felt were worthy of your possible donation, whether that be time or money. There are so many campaigns which, on the face of things, claim to be working towards concrete improvements for the lives of women, but when you take a moment to scan the small print, are only donating a measly 5% of all profits whilst keeping the brand awareness and extra cash for themselves. I didn't want to bring attention to those campaigns (I think they're a bit fucked up, in all honesty), so instead I wanted to share with you five non-profit organisations, run by - and ran for - women.
But let's not stop there! If you know of a local organisation or community group who are worth their weight in gold, tweet me @chloeplumstead so we can continue to share the goodness of girls. Alternatively, pop a comment down below and I'll do all of the sharing my end. Let me know what you think guys, and get giving.
The Hey Girls mission is simple: for every pack of sanitary towels purchased, one pack is donated to a vulnerable young girl or woman across the UK, in a bid to action tangible change against period poverty. If you're not familiar with the phrase, "period poverty" refers to the lack of free and accessible sanitary products for those who can't afford them, leaving many vulnerable women without basic protection. Hey Girls believe access to sanitary care is a right, not a privilege, and that's why they operate their not-for-profit social enterprise on the one-in, one-out basis. The best bit? You can sign up to a monthly, bi-monthly or tri-monthly subscription, meaning you'll never get caught off guard by your flow, and neither will somebody else. Make your period meaningful.
Founded in 2015, Saffron Records is an all-woman record label and Community Interest Scheme, working to offer a platform for young women invested in music. From performers to producers, Saffron Records nurtures 16-25 year old talent through a series of industry days, masterclasses and networking events, with artists on the Artist Development scheme ultimately releasing their own music through the label itself. Alongside helping young women break into music production and showcasing nurtured artists at their own gigs, S.R. also help those interested in the touring, PR and marketing side of the business, as well as extending education programmes to secondary schools which encourage teenage girls to try their hand at DJing.
Here are the statistics: less than 10% of women leaving prison are able to secure employment, with around a third having already lost their homes and possessions whilst in custody. This presents a very bleak reality upon release, leaving women woefully under-prepared for the small margin of employers that will consider them for work, and without access to proper support and resources beyond their departure. This is undoubtedly part of the cocktail which causes 48% of women to reoffend and return to prison, but Behind Bras is doing something different. Motivated by her own difficulty finding employment upon being released, Barbara Burton founded Behind Bras, a social enterprise which teaches women to become qualified seamstresses after they have served their sentence. Their aim is to help women find meaningful employment, not only to provide for themselves and their families, but to find purpose, pleasure and pride in their own skills.
National Ugly Mugs (NUM)
"Fighting Stigma, Saving Lives" - the National Ugly Mugs (NUM) strap line speaks a lot of the organisation's work in itself, but their mission says more: Ending Violence Against Sex Workers. NUM is a national organisation which seeks to protect the safety and dignity of sex workers, as well as advocating for decriminalisation and rights. They offer a pioneering alert system which allows sex workers to be notified of a person or situation of danger, with high risk alerts being distributed to all members, and lower risk alerts being distributed by region. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the work that that NUM do; they also work closely with police to improve their engagement and protection of sex workers, aid sex workers in providing reports of violence to the police (should they wish to do so), and offer number/email checkers on their website for individual's who have already been flagged as dangerous.
"Clean hair, skin and teeth are a right, not a privilege. Personal hygiene – while not a matter of life and death – is crucial for our dignity, self-respect, personal pride and mental health." - Sali Huges, Co-Founder of Beauty Banks. Similar to period poverty, hygiene poverty refers to the lack of access to basic hygiene products for many vulnerable people across the UK. This means going without toothpaste, deodorant, shower gel or shampoo, items that so many of us take for granted and often discard for having 'only a little bit left'. Shocked by an In Kind Direct report which highlight hygiene poverty as a "hidden crisis" in the UK, Sali Hughes and Jo Jones formed the non-profit organisation Beauty Banks, aiming to provide toiletries and basic hygiene products to vulnerable people and/or those living in serious poverty. Bloggers, this one is for you. To donate, first check Sali's article on what products are needed, and then box your goodies up and ship them off to:
c/o JO JONES
THE COMMUNICATIONS STORE
2 KENSINGTON SQUARE
LONDON W8 5EP