Lots of Bags

Today I made a special delivery. I had hoped to make the delivery last week but it was delayed because part of it wasn’t ready.

Here is part of the delivery

This photograph shows four of the thirteen bags that I delivered to the Bolton Women’s Refuge, Fort Alice, today. What it doesn’t show is what was inside each of the bags nor does it explain why I took them to the refuge.

The knitting group that I attend on Thursday evenings at Cobwebs in Tottington, is once again making blankets as part of a project in one of the knitting magazines. The idea is to provide comfort blankets for those living in the refuges.

Soon after we discussed the project at one of our knit and natter sessions, I read an item about women who arrive at refuges, often with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing. I don’t know about you, but I find it almost impossible to imagine being in the situation of having NOTHING except what I’m wearing, and that’s without the fact that those women have been subjected to abuse so severe that it has caused them to flee their homes, very possibly in fear for their lives or those of their children. I have had some very hard times in my life but I am thankful that I have never been in that situation.

At around the same time as I read the article, I saw a sewing tutorial online to make a travel toiletries wrap using a face flannel which is folded and channels sewn in to hold small bottles. “Ah ha! What a wonderful idea”, I thought. I always bring home the freebies from the bathroom when I go on holiday and, if I don’t use them, I give them to a charity for fundraising. I decided that I would use them for the toiletry wraps and give them to the local refuge. Well, that was how it started but, somehow, it grew…

I told people what I was proposing to do [as I was hoping I might receive some face flannels to stitch]. Someone suggested that the women would need pants and she said she would provide them for me to add to the wraps. Then I thought that they would need sanitary towels and, if they had no income, that could be difficult, not to say embarassing, if they had to ask someone to provide them. The next part of the idea was that a bag would be better to hold these things, than a face flannel – so I started sewing some bags. The first design was like those in the foreground of the above picture, with a button-down flap, which I made from some brand new cushion covers someone had given me for another project but for which they hadn’t been suitable. However, I wasn’t completely happy with those. Then I tried the origami folded fabric pouches [in an earlier post], but they weren’t large enough. My third attempt was the bags in the background of the above photograph. The one on the right was made using another of the £1.00 pieces of fabrics that I bought in Uppermill – there was ample fabric to make several bags and I still have a good-sized piece left. The linings were made from a sheet someone had given me. The patchwork bag was made using pieces of fabric that Jacquie from the sewing group gave me. She had inherited a lot of fabric from her late sister and had given me a bag of pieces because I “can always find a use for things”!

Lots of people gave items for inclusion in the bags and I am very grateful to them all. I daren’t try to name them because I would probably overlook some and that would be awful! Thank you very much, all of you.

This shows the contents of one bag

People were so generous that I was able to put lots of things in each bag. Every bag included: deodorant, shower creme, body lotion, a small bar of soap and an individually-wrapped bar of handmade soap in cellophane with an artificial flower attached, several sanitary towels and party liners, shower cap, pack of tissues with a pouch, toothbrush and toothpaste, decorated face flannel, a beaded bracelet wrapped in gold tissue paper and at least two extra items [these varied according to what was available] – in this bag they were a bath bomb and a razor. The wrapped handmade soap, tissue pouch and bracelet were included as “luxury” extras rather than just having basics in the bags. Every bag and every tissue pouch were uniquely decorated and every bracelet was different. I must thank Lilian for agreeing to make all the bracelets.

And so, today I took the thirteen bags, plus extra toiletries, sanitary towels and other items, to Fort Alice. I hope to continue taking things to them. It seems such a small thing to do for women [and children] who have been through such dreadful things.



7 thoughts on “Lots of Bags

  1. fabulous job Dina.
    My friend had to leave her home for her own safety and stayed in secret with me. The WI here do the same thing.. a gift box with the essentials in, plus a couple of luxury items. This was practically all my friend had i a can tell you that she was so grateful when they gave it to her she had tears of joy.
    Lisa xx


  2. Dina, what a good thing you are doing. Your bags must be helping to give these poor women just a little of their dignity back. Like you, I can't begin to imagine what it must be like in their situation but it must take a lot of courage for them to walk away from it with absolutely nothing.

    Jenny xx


  3. Fantastic thing to do, and to receive. To be given something so personal at a time when they will be at their lowest must give them some faith that there are people who care. It must make a difference to them.


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