Celebrities urge to donate unwanted clothes to aid Bangladeshi women

Munia, 17, is a tailor who got the opportunity from the Red Crescent livelihoods programme and learnt about tailoring
Munia, 17, is a tailor who got the opportunity from the Red Crescent livelihoods programme and learnt about tailoring

BRITISH celebrities Amanda Holden, Anita Rani, and Michelle Keegan are backing a new British Red Cross campaign as the charity kicks off its 150th year.

The campaign aims to encourage women in the UK to change the lives of women in Barishal, Bangladesh, one of the most disaster prone places on the planet, simply by donating unwanted clothes.

Almost half of women in the UK have admitted to owning too many clothes according to a recent survey for the charity.

The research revealed that the majority of women claim to wear less than half of their wardrobe, with over a third admitting that the amount of clothes they no longer wear makes them feel guilty.

Britain’s Got Talent judge and British Red Cross supporter, Amanda Holden, who is backing the campaign said: “Why not commit to clearing out your wardrobe to help empower women in the slums of Barishal, Bangladesh? Life for them is hard. On top of dealing with the constant threat of extreme weather, these women are often abandoned by men who migrate to the cities – or face violence just for being a woman.”

TV presenter Anita Rani is encouraging women across the country to get involved: “Join me in having a clear out for a good cause. Life for the women in Barishal, Bangladesh is extremely hard. They are often left to raise children alone, experience violence and can be forced to marry young and drop out of school.

“But the British Red Cross knows that when strong women come together they are powerful – with just a small amount of support, training and tools they can be breadwinners, mothers and leaders of their communities. Donate and declutter to help these women to build a safer future.”

Actress Michelle Keegan echoes this and  is calling on the public to follow her lead. She said:“Between January and March, money raised from the sales of all women’s clothes in British Red Cross shops will support thousands of women in Bangladesh to build sustainable livelihoods. So just by donating or buying clothes from a Red Cross charity shop you can help change lives.”

It starts with her will run from January to April raising money to help women living in the slums of the bustling Bangladesh port of Barishal, known as ‘the Venice of the East’ for the canals and rivers that wind their way across the city.

The women here battle poverty, homelessness and violence, but are fighting back with the help of British Red Cross to build their own and others’ livelihoods.

It starts with her will fund women’s small businesses to thrive, through training and small cash grants, so that they can earn enough money to support their families, and build savings for the future – making them more resilient to cope with the everyday and during a crisis.

In Barishal in Bangladesh, people are under threat of monsoons and flooding, which can lead to deadly illnesses spreading, especially in slum areas.

The risk is even greater for women and girls who are more likely to fall into poverty, lose their homes, have no reasonable way of making a living and miss out on getting an education.

An astounding 70 per cent of women surveyed admitted that they have bought a piece of clothing and never worn it. However, for women in Barishal in Bangladesh, owning clothes you’ve never worn or can afford to cast aside is unimaginable.

Mim,19-year-old woman living in Barishal owns just four outfits but has just the same hopes, fears and passion for fashion as her counterparts anywhere in the world:

Mim said: “I own four everyday outfits which I rotate, and I keep three outfits for special occasions like parties and weddings. Because my family and I can’t afford to buy new clothes often – usually one new salwar kameez a year – I customise my outfits by watching YouTube tutorials to learn about different embroidery techniques and stitch designs onto plain outfits.”

Mim has joined a Women’s Squad, a community group funded and set up by the British Red Cross to give women a platform to speak up about issues that directly affect them and their communities.

Here, women stand together, have their voice heard and put forward solutions for issues in their society.

Zoe Abrams, Executive Director of Communications and Advocacy, British Red Cross said: “Our new appeal  it  starts  with  her  will make use of our 150 years of experience to help women in vulnerable communities be better prepared for when the worst happens.

“When women come together, they are  powerful and in the wake of a crisis that strength is needed more than ever.  When it comes to picking up the pieces, rebuilding lives and creating a sustainable future that reaches every  single  corner of a community in the aftermath, it starts with her. Which is why  we think  building women’s resilience is  worth investing in.”