College continues to donate by the bagful

Love Grace appeal Emma Shaw and Nicola Thomson-Dewey

We have continued our support of The Love Grace handbag appeal this year by donating handbags and toiletry supplies to the IDAS women’s refuge.

The Love Grace handbag appeal is a charity campaign set up in memory of 21-year-old Grace Millane who was tragically murdered whilst travelling in New Zealand in 2018. The campaign combines Grace’s love of handbags with a legacy carried out in her name to end violence towards women.

“we’re very lucky to be able to continue the initiative throughout this difficult time.”

Hair, Beauty and Catering Curriculum Leader, Martyn Hollingsworth, whose niece was friends with Grace at university, started an initiative with Head of Learning for Living and Work, Nicola Thomson-Dewey. The initiative saw them collect donations of ladies’ handbags filled with toiletries, luxury items and other essentials which were then donated to help those most in need at women’s refuges. Nicola has continued this initiative collecting items for donation again this year.

Nicola said: “When someone is escaping a violent relationship or find themselves in a difficult situation, the last thing they may think about is themselves. These bags could have such a positive impact just by showing that there are people out there who care. An act of kindness can be beneficial to everyone involved and we’re very lucky to be able to continue the initiative throughout this difficult time.”

This year, Covid-19 restrictions have hindered the collection of donations and so Nicola used her connections within Temple Spa to collect toiletry items and decided to team up with friend and Body Shop consultant Emma Shaw to expand on this.

“I also donated several handbags that belonged to my mum as I felt this was a great way to honour her.”

Emma said: “My mum passed away two years ago, and she loved to help people plus she loved her handbags! So, we thought what a great charity to donate to. Myself, friends, colleagues, and my customers from my Body Shop group donated and bought products and bags to help this fantastic course. I also donated several handbags that belonged to my mum as I felt this was a great way to honour her.”

Nicola and Emma made the donation to the local IDAS women’s refuge where they were distributed to users.

Refuge Worker, Jo M, said: “The women have such a wonderful, emotional response to the bags. It has become a small part of refuge folklore as older residents tell new ones how lucky they will be if they get to be recipients of a Love Grace handbag.

“Next time they go out, bag on their shoulder, they walk a little taller, empowered by that little piece of armour that all women carry.”

“The women are thrilled at how lovely the bags are and can be quite taken aback in choosing one and say, ‘are you sure I can take this…why?’ This gives us a chance to explain a little about the why. They see inside and they can get quite tearful that someone put such thought into a gift; all the useful and personal items that mean so much more to a woman who has not had anyone think of her for a long time. You can feel their self-esteem being topped up! Next time they go out, bag on their shoulder, they walk a little taller, empowered by that little piece of armour that all women carry.”

For further information about The Love Grace Handbag appeal and Barnsley College’s support, please contact Nicola Thomson-Dewey on n.thomson-dewey@barnsley.ac.uk or call 01226 216 216.

Last updated: 1st June 2021

Originally posted on: 25th May 2021