• Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

NHS staff inspired by I, Daniel Blake to collect sanitary products and 700 handbags for North East women this Christmas

Tampons and sanitary pads may not be what you would expect to be handed out for Christmas, but for hundreds of women across the North East such a small thing could make a huge difference.

NHS staff from across the region have collected more than 700 handbags, and countless toiletries and sanitary products, that will help vulnerable women across the North East.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW), decided to support the Helping Homeless Women North East initiative, which was set up by former NTW employee Gill Minto. The scheme gathers handbags of toiletries and sanitary products for local charities to pass onto vulnerable women.

Anyone who has seen the film I, Daniel Blake will be aware of the difficulties many women face in affording sanitary products. These absolute essentials are rarely donated to foodbanks and other support organisations.

NTW deputy director of communications and corporate relations, Caroline Wild, said: “We have been totally overwhelmed by how many people have been so kind. These are very practical, life-changing gifts. This has been a real team effort, which everyone involved should be really proud of.

“I hope that everyone who has taken part can share a little of that warm glow that comes from knowing you have made a small difference to someone who needs a helping hand.

“We could barely get moved for bags and these are going to the people who really need them. Thank you.”

On Wednesday afternoon (14 December) a NTW truck stacked with handbags, boxes of toiletries, bags of sanitary products and gifts headed off to the Newcastle West End Foodbank and to Changing Lives.

NTW staff have spent the past four weeks collecting handbags and all kinds of essentials that many of us take for granted, but can make the world of difference to women who are homeless or are living on the breadline.

The bags were collected across NTW sites, from Northgate and St George’s Hospital in Morpeth, Ferndene in Prudhoe, Newcastle’s Walkergate Park and down to Hopewood Park and Monkwearmouth Hospital in Sunderland.

The bags were then gathered centrally at St Nicholas Hospital, Gosforth, to be sorted before being passed on directly to the charities. Everything collected will now be shared among foodbank customers and those being supported by Changing Lives across the region.

Newcastle West End Foodbank was given boxes of sanitary products and toiletries to stock its shelves with. The foodbank also took on more than 300 packed handbags, scores more bags and purses, and toiletry gift sets to brighten up Christmas for its customers.

Newcastle West End Foodbank project manager, Michael Nixon, said: “Next week we will be feeding 1,500 people and we had been discussing that we were short of presents to give them for Christmas, so this delivery is absolutely fantastic. We couldn’t be happier.”

He added: “We were burgled this time last year and there was a lot of press coverage. As a result we were inundated with toys, which was very kind. But this year we have struggled and it’s gifts for the children that we are now concentrating on. If anyone can help, we would really appreciate it.”

  • If you have any spare toys you could donate to the foodbank, please do. You can find Newcastle West End Foodbank online, here.

Changing Lives were supplied with 320 pre-packed handbags, full to the brim with everyday essentials that can prove difficult for many women to afford. Whether on the streets or in Changing Lives accommodation, the bags NTW has donated to the charity will make life easier for women who may be struggling.

The charity works with people across the North East, helping them through tremendous difficulties, including homelessness and domestic abuse, among others. It has almost 30 projects in the North East alone.

Changing Lives service manager, Donna Calverley, said: “I want to say a massive thank you to everybody who’s participated in the handbag appeal. All of the items will be going across all of our accommodation projects in the North East and make a massive difference for the people we support.”

She added: “What’s so great about this is that something as small as a handbag can make a huge difference.  This is going to help people directly on the streets, as well as clients coming into our accommodation.

“And this isn’t just about Christmas. These issues are around all year through, so if you do end up with an unwanted Christmas, please do drop it into us.”