HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR ABGC, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!
It’s two years ago today that Sanya turned to Sophie and said, “Periods. What are we gonna do about them, bitch?” [paraphrase]. To celebrate our second birthday, and following on from last week’s arthouse teaser trailer (reviews of which ranged from ‘genius’ – our old English teacher – to ‘weird’ – Sophie’s mum), we are launching our sixth campaign!
Campaign #6 focuses around one incredible building in the heart of London’s Old Street: Tindlemanor. Opened in the 1980s, Tindlemanor’s mission is ‘to provide affordable, accessible, safe, secure and sustainable space for women and their groups to meet and work.’ The building hosts nine women’s charities and around 150 female charity workers and volunteers, sharing ideas and facilities. We are delighted to be supporting two of the charities within the building- Women for Refugee Women and Latin American Women’s Right’s Service – as well as providing pads to be made accessible for the building’s service users in the washrooms.
Find out more about the two charities we’ll be supporting within Tindlemanor:
Women for Refugee Women
Women for Refugee Women is a London-based initiative that challenges the injustices experienced by women who cross borders to seek safety. They work at the grassroots to support and empower women who are seeking asylum, work with the arts, media and public events to tell women’s stories, and publish research and inform politicians with the aim of creating a fairer asylum process. Every week, hundreds of women make their way to the Women for Refugee Women offices to a space where they can eat, find support, seek safety and learn English. Samantha Hudson at Women for Refugee Women kindly took the time to answer our questions:
Could you provide some general background on the kind of work you do and the kind of women you help?
SH: Women for Refugee Women’s mission is to ensure that women and children seeking asylum in the UK are treated with justice and dignity. We work to empower women who have sought sanctuary in the UK to speak out about their own experiences to the media, to policy-makers and at public events. We host weekly English lessons, therapeutic activities such as yoga and drama, and invite women to share lunch together. We support women at all stages of their asylum claim to help combat feelings of isolation and vulnerability.
What kinds of issues are these women facing?
SH: Many of the women with whom we work are survivors of rape, other forms of gender-based violence and torture. Women seeking asylum are not allowed to work and must survive on an allowance of £36.95 a week – around half of what people receive on Jobseekers Allowance. This is not enough to cover basic supplies, including food and sanitary protection, alongside travel to appointments and phone credit to call their solicitor or the Home Office. Asylum seekers are often placed in sub-standard housing, living in overcrowded conditions, without privacy or dignity. For women battling with depression and past trauma it is very difficult to meet other people and feel included, particularly when they have not had support with learning English. Many of the women we work with have been refused asylum and are living destitute, with no support and no housing. This can leave them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The women often face a ‘culture of disbelief’ in the asylum process, in which their experiences of trauma are not taken seriously. Many of them have also experienced detention in the UK. We have found evidence that in detention in Yarl’s Wood women are often watched by male guards in intimate situations, such as when washing or on the toilet. Detention is deeply traumatic, particularly for those who have been imprisoned or abused before reaching the UK, causing lasting distress. Self-harm rates are high.
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 (or otherwise)?
SH: No, we do not receive Government funding.
Do you find that a stigma exists in relation to discussing periods and how do you think it might be combated?
SH: We do find that there is a degree of stigma in relation to discussing periods, particularly as many of the women with whom we work come from very traditional backgrounds. The level of stigma that women feel is very variable and dependent on their personal confidence and circumstances. Women for Refugee Women provides a women-only safe space which can make it easier for women to discuss periods and other issues affecting their personal wellbeing.
How do you feel that our campaign could benefit your organisation?
SH: Donations from A Bloody Good Cause will really help to alleviate financial pressures and embarrassment for refugee and asylum-seeking women who are unable to afford sanitary protection.
Thanks, Sam! You can keep up-to-date with Women for Refugee Women here:
Latin American Women’s Rights Service
LAWRS is a user-led, feminist and human rights organisation focused on addressing the practical and strategic needs of Latin American migrant women displaced by poverty and violence. Latin Americans are one of the fastest growing ethnic minorities in the UK, but despite this, they remain invisible. LAWR’s service users experience significant disadvantage as migrants, as women, and as members of an invisible minority ethnic group in this country.
Founded in 1983, LAWRS’ mission is ‘to provide Latin American migrant women with tools to assert our rights, and pursue personal empowerment and social change’. They directly support more than 5,000 women annually through culturally and linguistically specialist advice, information, counselling and psychotherapy, advocacy, development programmes, and workshops.
Ways to donate
We are now OPEN to receive your donations of sanitary towels. (This campaign, we are requesting no tampons please, as we have found previously that the users we work with benefit more from pads.) Final date for donations is August 24th!
Alternatively, in a click of a button, you can send some donations directly to ABGC HQ via our Amazon Wishlist.
Excitingly, since we teamed up with the wonderful women at Freda, we are delighted to soon be able to offer you the option of donating 100% organic cotton Freda pads to us via their donations page too – watch this space!
Every campaign, we’re overwhelmed by the amount of support we receive from you: thank you in advance for your kind donations! Even one pack of pads is one woman’s fears around shame and hygiene allayed for another month.
Thanks for reading, and keeeeeeeep bleeding!