Red Alert Society appeal for washbags for vulnerable women


Credit: GU Red Alert Society Facebook Page

Credit: GU Red Alert Society Facebook Page

Malcolm Cohn

The Glasgow University Red Alert Society are pushing to collect filled washbags for vulnerable women over the winter months.

The focus of the Red Alert society is to provide sanitary products to those who cannot afford their own, both regionally and nationally. The society is hoping to provide these products to homeless women in need over winter in Glasgow.

On 15 November, the society hosted an information event concerning their main charitable push – providing homeless women in the Govanhill area of Glasgow with sanitary products. The event was held to inspire students to provide the homeless with tampons, sanitary towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste and wipes.

Red Alert also encourage donors to include anything else in the washbag that they felt would help their target group.

The information event was kicked off by members of the society who detailed the successes of last year’s appeal and explained how this drive had helped homeless women in Govanhill. The group discussed why the appeal is necessary and why the tampon tax, a piece of legislation which means that the tax band for vital sanitary goods are in the same bracket as televisions, is detrimental especially to vulnerable women. Instead of being at a reduced tax rate of either 5% or 0%, tampons and sanitary towels are taxed at the full rate of VAT – 20%. Red Alert argue that this makes it difficult for homeless women to access these goods.

Jean-Ann, who works at the Simons Community in the Govanhill area, discussed the role that the Simons Community plays as an organisation directed at combating the causes and effects of homelessness in the area. She read out the feedback she had received from women after last years drive and explained the importance of the washbag appeal.

President of the Red Alert Society, Eleanor Wilson said: “This Christmas, GU Red Alert are running a Washbag Appeal where we are encouraging students to fill a washbag with products they see as essential to health, hygiene and dignity, with special focus on sanitary towels and tampons.

“We will collect these bags and donate them to the Simon Community in Govanhill, an organisation which offers accommodation to women living on the streets. These women have been forced to choose between cleanliness and food, so in providing them some of the basics, we hope to lighten their load, particularly at this often difficult time of year.

“The feedback we got from last year’s donations were overwhelmingly positive, which energised us to keep the momentum going and proceed with the campaign into a second year.

“We launched this event last Tuesday, with an introduction to the necessity of the campaign, followed by details of last year’s campaign and how to get involved this year. We also had Jean-Ann from the Simon Community along to talk about the work they do, and how the bags were received last year. We’re urging students to click going on our facebook event, so as to find out when and where to drop the bags, and what to put in them. We hope this year’s appeal will be as big a success as last year – if not bigger! If we all pitch in, we can make a real difference to someone’s christmas.”

Wilson explained the new society’s plans for the future: “Next semester we plan to run a campaign in support of the charity Smalls for ALL in collaboration with International Women’s Week, and are in talks with the Scottish Parliament about organising a protest outside Holyrood. All exciting things we urge you to get involved with!”

Washbags will be collected between 21 November and 2 December. These dates were chosen in order to provide these products to women over the winter months.