Wash Bags Initiative enters second year
For the second year in a row, Boots donated 12,000 wash bags to forty-seven UK Sexual Assault Referral Centres (UK SARCs) across the country as part of the three-year Wash Bags Initiative between Boots and UK SARCs. Every survivor of rape and sexual abuse who receives support at a UK SARC will receive a wash bag, following the forensic examination.
The Wash Bags initiative was established by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall after she spent time with people who had been sexually assaulted.
Launching the Wash Bags project at Boots last March, Her Royal Highness said: “I wanted to find a practical way of helping women and girls, and men, who had been left traumatised through no fault of their own, to have some comfort at such a distressing time.”
Recently, over 60 volunteers from Boots packed the wash bags with toothpaste, a toothbrush, shower gel, shampoo, deodorant, body lotion, hand cream and other toiletries to offer comfort and care.
Elizabeth Fagan, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Boots said: “I hope that these wash bags go some way in making victims and survivors feel cared for and comforted at such a vulnerable time.
“The work that UK SARCs do is incredibly important, and we are pleased to collaborate with them on this initiative. Not only does it allow us to make a tangible difference to those who are most at need in the communities in which we work, but it also gives our colleagues an opportunity to give back and make a real difference.”
20% of women and 4% of men aged 16–59 in the UK have experienced some type of rape or sexual assault since the age of 16.1
Jo Delaforce, Matron at The Havens – a group of three London-based SARCs, says: “SARCs across the UK support more than 12,000 men, women and children who have experienced rape, sexual abuse or sexual assault. We provide them with immediate and long-term support, enabling them to gain some control back in their lives. We offer a safe place to consider options about reporting to the police, accessing medical examinations and collecting forensic evidence. In addition, many SARCs provide access to on-going support at court and counselling.
“The Wash Bag Initiative has received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from service users. Centres across the country have commented on how victims and survivors have been touched by the kindness and thoughtfulness that the wash bags represent.”
Rosie*, a client from The Havens, said she felt gratitude when receiving the wash bag. “It was something that hadn’t even occurred to me, that anyone would give that kind of thing. I remember when I saw it and they said ‘you can go and wash now’ and I hadn’t been able to wash at that point for hours and hours. It was so nice to have products that I would just pick up and use anyway, that didn’t feel clinical.
“When you’re going through something like that, you don’t think about things like ‘how will I brush my hair afterwards, how will I fix my face?’. To have someone think of that was a really good thing – I was incredibly thankful to receive it.”
1 Sexual offences in England and Wales: year ending March 2017, published February 2018
*Name has been changed to protect identity