IT’S TIME! No, not Chico time, but time for our third sanitary product drive! We’re delighted to announce that, this time round, we are working alongside Stevenage Women’s Refuge. Being born and/or bred in Stevenage, we’re really excited to be supporting an organisation so close to home that benefits local women. We’ll be collecting donations until Sunday 27th March – see below for ways to donate!
Scheme Manager Karen Underwood has kindly provided us with some information about Stevenage Women’s Refuge, so you can learn a little more about where your donations will go:
What kind of work does Stevenage Women’s Refuge do?
Karen Underwood: Stevenage Women’s Refuge supports women and children who are fleeing domestic violence and abuse. We assist women in looking at risks in order to stay safe and also address their own individual support needs. Each women is allocated a support worker and they meet regular throughout their stay in refuge and we also assist with moving on from refuge safely. We also support children as we have an allocated child support worker for them.
Who do you help?
KU: We offer refuge space to any woman that meets our eligibility criteria, for example [a woman who is] fleeing domestic abuse and [who] also has recourse to public funds (able to claim benefits). In our Stevenage refuge we can accommodate up to 9 women and 16 children at any one time. This may mean we support up to 30 families per year, although this is decreasing due to the time it can take for re-housing or moving on safely.
What kind of issues do these women face?
KU: The women face many issues, from dealing with their own situation and worrying about where they are going to live, [to] having to start anew. They may also have additional issues such as addictions, mental health [problems], as well as being victims of abuse.
Our first campaign was driven by the desire to provide sanitary products to a homeless shelter, because the government currently doesn’t providing funding for this, despite offering allowances for condoms and razors. Do you receive any local or national funding in this capacity? Have you had any interest or help from the Stevenage MP, Stephen McPartland (who we previously contacted regarding the national tampon tax)?
KU: We do not receive any local or national funding for this. Our local council does not fund the refuge in any way (however, we do have the use of the buildings for low rent).
Do you find that a stigma exists in relation to discussing periods? How do you think it might be combated?
KU: It depends on the individual, some women can be very open and have no issues talking about this. Yet some women will find this difficult or embarrassing. I do not believe this is always cultural in any way, however we have found someone’s own upbringing makes a difference.
How do you feel that our campaign could benefit Stevenage Women’s Refuge?
KU: I believe the support would make a difference to new women coming into refuge as they will not have a lot of money so this would be helpful. It may also be a very good opportunity to discuss female sexual health.
How did you get into this line of work yourself?
KU: I started in refuge as the Child Support Worker as I am nursery trained. I have been Scheme Manager since 2014 (having worked in refuge 11 years). I have a good knowledge of domestic abuse and the impacts this has on both women and children and I am still passionate about the work we do 11 years later.
A big thank you to Karen for taking the time to answer our questions!
WAYS TO DONATE:
Send us a Facebook message or an email to email@example.com to find out our drop-off/mailing address for donations.
Alternatively, you can select products to donate from our Amazon Wishlist and they’ll be delivered straight to our door at the click of a button!
Thanks for reading!
~ Sophie & Sanya