• Caroline Gray

Why Make-up bags for SafeLives Charity?

Updated: Apr 27

From Facemasks to Make-up bags.

The 23rd March is my birthday, however in 2020 in meant lockdown for the first time in the UK. Most of us were lucky to lockdown in a comfortable and safe home, sadly, for many that was not the case!

As the country sat down to listen to the Prime Minister’s announcement at 8pm on 23rd March my mobile phone started buzzing with messages from friends joking ‘There’s an extra birthday present for you’ or ‘you’re not going to forget this birthday in a hurry’. Although apprehensive what a lockdown would look like, we could all joke about my birthday in 2020.

17th August 2020 Panorama showed a programme presented by Victoria Derbyshire called ‘Escaping my abuser’

One lady Victoria interviewed in a women’s refuge was Jess, her words had a profound affect me.

23rd March 8pm 2020 Prime Minister address the nation

Jess ‘I was at home with him we’re both listening to Boris Johnson and he looked over at me. He had his arms folded back and chest out, cos he knew that would intimidate me and he looked at me and he said ‘Let the games begin’

Victoria Derbyshire ‘That stay-at-home message, what did it mean to you?’

Jess ‘Death’

‘Let the games begin’ made me feel sick to my core, I couldn’t get the total contrast out of my head of our lives at the exact same time. Mine joking with friends ‘Oh what a great birthday present, not!’ and Jess believing this lockdown could end in her death.

The thought of Jess and many others wouldn’t leave my mind. How many others like her spent lockdown in unimaginable fear, pain and desperate for help?

At the time, I had designed and was making Rainbow Brooches to sale for NHScharitiestogether, but kept thinking what could I do or make to raise funds for domestic abuse..

1968 accessories was only launched November 2018. Had a great first year and a brilliant Christmas pop-up boutique 2019. So successful was this boutique, through January & February 2020 I had researched and booked events throughout the year.

2020 was in the bag…. it was going to be my year….

Even before the lockdown announcement, one by one all those events had pencil lines put through them. By beginning of April, all my Spring and Summer events were cancelled. By September all my Autumn and Winter ones too.

The first call out came along, for scrubs and scrub wash bags, I couldn’t make scrubs, as I didn’t have an over-locker, but could make scrub bags. Next call out for Facemasks for local carers and I started to make these too.

Once most of the country opened up in early Summer we were told to wear facemasks ourselves, something we had not done in modern times in the UK, this purely came about due to COVID-19, I did some research and made them to sale by quickly putting a website together.

By the time of the Panorama programme, some sort of normal was being lived by many. You were aware of other people’s lives had not been an easy one during lockdown, one being the rise in domestic abuse.

Wanting to do something to raise awareness, I started to look at what I could do. Suddenly I had a lightbulb moment.

Due to making the cotton facemasks and scrub bags I had a big bag of left-over pieces of fabric. Normally I use this to make sample pieces and practising new techniques. This time though I decided to use this material for making make-up bags.

My reason for this decision is many women use make-up to hide the affects of abuse.

Next task was to turn these scraps of fabric into ‘new’ lengths of material, which would take some time.

My Mum turned 70 January 2020 and I knew she wanted a sewing machine. We used to share one, but now with me in Dorset and Mum in Kent this wasn’t possible so I brought her a new Singer sewing machine and thankfully she had it before lockdown.

In the first lockdown Mum was able to be out in her garden, with this one during the Winters she couldn’t be outside and stuck inside. I sent up a box full of the left-over fabric and Mum started work turning these scraps into wonderful, colourful lengths of new material for me to make the bags.

Next thing which charity to ask if OK for me to raise the funds for them. Women charities are very important and so needed, but I’m aware that men are also victims from abuse and many from the LGBT+ community too. I choose the great charity ‘SafeLives’ because of their important mission statement:

‘We are SafeLives, the UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for everyone and for good.’

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