It can be liberating, exciting and super rewarding to live a freelance life. We are in charge of our own success, be creative, work with our favourite teams and make our own hours. On the other hand... It can be gruelling and tough to live the freelance life. Irregular pay, diminishing pay rates (who has a seen a pay rise in this industry of late?)... and for some of us (including myself) the failure of clients to pay bills can leave you without means to pay rent, or even worse, without a place to stay for a while. Clients who take forever to pay really don't understand the positions they put sole traders in.
Imagine if this was your experience and you weren't surrounded by supportive friends?
Imagine if this was your experience and you weren't waiting for clients to pay... you actually couldn't get a job and had little income coming in for the foreseeable future?
Imagine if you couldn't even afford tampons. What would you do?
I know how easy it is to end up in need as a result in a string of circumstances... and thats why a recent message via Facebook by fellow MUA and Hairstylist Nicole Abela really hit a chord with me. She sent a message to a group of artists about a charity she was collecting goods for. And we nearly always have goods to give.
You will want to start raiding your cupboards immediately.
#itsinthebag is an initiative by SHARE THE DIGNITY founded by Rochelle Courtenay. Inspired by an article online, she was "shocked to learn that in Australia many homeless women and women in domestic violence shelters had to face unthinkable indignities during their monthly period. For these vulnerable and at risk women, each month brought a shameful and traumatic experience, suffering indignities such as having to clean themselves in public toilets and use paper towels or newspaper to create makeshift sanitary pads. Reading it from the comfort of our homes, with the knowledge that many Australian women couldn’t take hygiene for granted during menstruation, we knew we couldn’t allow it to continue."
Between Nov 19 and Dec 3... they will be taking collections of all kinds of items (including essentials like handbags, sanitary products and hygiene products) to forward to women in need. See below:
I was shocked when I started looking into why this charity exists I emailed Rochelle to ask some more questions so that you will immediately go to your cupboard and start making your own gift to donate.
What inspired you to start Share the Dignity?
I am a personal trainer and I have my business Bella U Personal Training. I train my clients at the beautiful Shorncliffe beachfront... I am very grateful that my work and ladies allow me to Share the Dignity. It started last March when I read an article written by Mamamia that talked about women of Australia that were homeless or had fled domestic violence, living in refuges were having to go without the basic of necessities like pads and tampons. I could not believe this was happening in Australia but I couldn’t believe that no one had done anything about it. So we made up a poster spread it around and collected from my clients, my clients friends, the local community and we collected 450 packs of pads and tampons which we thought was fabulous and set up a Facebook page on 1st March 2015 so that everyone that donated knew where their donations were going and how their kind gesture really did help those in need. But it is not like we are giving a woman a warm jacket and it keeps her warm for years this is a monthly problem and it did not take long before the sanitary items for all gone. We then decided to put the call out again and in the social media world we live in it went viral and we then had calls from women across Australia wanting to help. In August last year we collected over 120,000 packs of pads and tampons it was incredible. So far to date we have collected more than 420,000 packs of pads and tampons and that is a huge impact to women in need. So we now collect in APRIL and AUGUST sanitary items and then at Christmas time it was decided that we wanted to ensure women that were spending Christmas homeless or in a domestic violence refuge received a gift that most women can manage to give via the #itsinthebag. So we are asking women to fill a pre-loved handbag with some of lifes necessities and then pop in some of the things we take for granted like deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, scarf, socks, whistle, sunscreen really what you put in your bag that you gift is really up to the individual and is only limited by your imagination, budget and bag size.
What difference have you seen your efforts make already?
We have heard so many stories about the joy that the #itsinthebag Christmas gift gave from one woman who was receiving a bag in a homeless shelter saying that this was the first Christmas she had received a gift since she was 14 and that woman was 45, remarkably sad but so grateful that she felt loved by a complete stranger.
Whilst speaking at a Domestic Violence Summit, a story was told to me by a Worker at a Domestic Violence refuge in Canberra that talked about how a lady that had fled domestic violence with nothing but her two kids and car she didn’t even have a purse. She received the #itsinthebag gift for Christmas she was overwhelmed with emotion at the kindness of receiving a gift and after crying while looking through the bag at all of the wonderful things in there she was so chuffed by the $20 Rockmans voucher in the bag. This lady waited until the kids went back to school and went to the shops bought herself a great dress that was on special with her voucher gifted to her from a complete stranger, bought the dress, felt a million dollars and decided it was time for her to go for a job interview and she got the job. The refuge worker said if she never got that handbag she would never have got that job and it changed her and her children’s life. The power of kindness was replicated in every bag given. Given with love and hope and received in the same manner.
What types of people are you reaching with your programme?
While we thought it would just be homeless women and women in domestic violence refuges we were helping this was not to be the case, we were made aware of the real struggle of the poverty stricken farming community and that women and daughters are using cut up towels to deal with their periods. And that the real issue is that also would not be getting a Christmas gift.
What are the most commonly requested/needed items?
Sanitary items are the most requested items yet the least donated which we hope we have now solved given we keep donations coming in in April and August each year.
How else can Makeup Artists and beauty lovers help your organisation throughout the year?
Our Charity is run solely by Volunteers we cannot Share the Dignity without the power of women jumping on board to volunteer to help us. If that is just not possible, sharing the social media posts, talking about the charity letting people know that the work we do is important and it is our goal for every woman in Australia to know about us, walk the sanitary items a little different and pick up a pack of pads or tampons ready to donate. Attend our events that raise money to help us do the vital work we do in the community and embrace Share the Dignity in a warm hug.
What future do you see for Share The Dignity?
We are a charity that is not about re creating anything we only help the community in an area that is not already been done. We collaborate with Charities out there that help our women and children in need. We have now so many different ways that we help the community that has grown so quickly since we started over 18 months ago.
We do our Sanitary collections in April and August
We do our #Itsinthebag Christmas appeal
We have a campaign called “Because we care" which is where we pay for the funerals for women killed by domestic violence
We have just launched Activities 4 All... where we have activity scholarships for kids that have been affected by family violence. Activities like swimming, football, music, little athletics, dancing anything that allows children to heal from the affects of the past and encourage positive social behaviours.
We are truly excited about the work we do and the difference it makes in such a practical way to families in need.
No great project starts without any bumpy rides... what advice would you give anyone about to start a big project they are passionate about?
I am not the right person to ask here, I am always CART before the HORSE kind of lady, I think being passionate about something means you are already on to a winner but surround yourself with like minded people there is so much power in women supporting women.
As beauty professionals and beauty lovers alike... we are surrounded by items that could make a bigger difference to someone than we might imagine. We all have unused items from this list that can be donated... so please... Donate. If you need to buy new items... then do it. It's tax deductible for us in our profession so no matter what our own position is... even a $6 box of tampons will make a difference.
HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Collect items for #itsinthebag
- SHARE THIS ARTICLE to anyone you know who could also get involved. Other artists, Beauty Editors, Cosmetic Company PR etc. Share Share Share!
- Get in contact with Nicole or Share the Dignity directly to organise your donation to get to the right people.
The gorgeous new mum Nicole Abela had this to say to me:
What motivated you to contribute to the #itsinthebag xmas project?
I have really wanted to start giving back more I have had a few ideas about what I wanted to do and I really wanted to give back to a charity to do with women in need especially women in domestic violence shelters etc mainly because my mum was a domestic violence victim and couple other women I know and I know there is a struggle for most of these woman after they leave these situations as most have to leave there life behind to escape the relationship and start again some of them with children!
So if I could help to make life easier or put a smile on some of these women faces I'd be happy!
Few weeks ago I saw on facebook a post about #itsinthebag and Read that so many women in need go without sanitary items and necessities and I was horrified a I wanted to be involved to improve this.
What are you hoping to achieve by getting involved?
I really hope to collect lots of bags for these women not only with some necessities in there but also some feel good items in there which I have asked some of my friends in the hair and makeup industry to donate to put in these bags so we can make these woman feel special at Christmas.
What do you want people to donate?
Share your dignity have a list on website of the items that the women need especially sanitary items. But apart from necessities I'd like everyone to put at least one feel good item for the woman in the bag eg lipstick, Perfume, hair treatment, face mask etc
When can they donate to you by and what are your best contact details for donations?
I'd like them by the 2nd Dec to give me time to deliver them to the collection points or if you prefer you can drop off at one of collection points yourself which are on the share the dignity website
My email is email@example.com if people would like to contact me about donating a bag or items
Let's be amazing fellow artists and really make a difference to the Australian women who really need it.
I will be following this... so stay tuned to see how amazing you all are.