Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

Pants to Yarl’s Wood and the kindness of strangers

On October 1st this year, I had the great pleasure of meeting someone I have admired for a long time. I met Natasha Walter, author of Living Dolls and Director of Women for Refugee Women

Natasha and I met in a hurry – we both had places to get to but we’d wanted to meet for a while and we were both overflowing with ideas.  Over a coffee on Tooley Street in London, we fizzed and wondered and hoped and eventually I suggested something I’d had in mind for a long time. I wanted to do ‘suspended pants’ – like suspended coffees. I’d not really been sure who I could do it with or how, or if it would be appropriate – but talking to Natasha it became clear that this was something that would genuinely help women in Yarl’s Wood.

Natasha and I left that meeting and agreed by email within a few days that this was something we would do.

Two months and a day later, we launched, for one day only, Pants To Yarl’s Wood on our website. We’d had no idea what to expect – perhaps 15 donations?

We were floored.

At final count – as people have sent back unworn pants they were given as gifts and hadn’t wanted to throw away – we have 155 pairs of pants to send to women in Yarl’s Wood. While we were watching agog as the donations flooded in, we were emailed by Women For Refugee women. They told us that a woman who had been trafficked into the UK and then arrested and detained had specifically asked for pants. Knowing – genuinely, absolutely, specifically, knowing  – that we could help her was enormous.

Around 90 people between them have contributed those 155 pairs. Yarl’s Wood Befrienders have told us that this is already spreading laughter   and we are genuinely delighted that the ripples from this are starting to be felt.

It’s been explained to us that we will be unlikely to hear anything from the women who receive the gifts for a while. Described by one of Yarl’s Wood Befrienders as ‘very custodial’ the process of giving the gift is convoluted and indirect. The Befriender gives the gift to a security  person who issues the Befriender with a token. The Befriender gives the woman for whom the gift is intended for the token during the visit and then she swaps the token for the gift as she leaves the visiting area.

We received lots of beautiful personal messages which are accompanying the pants. We KNOW that this will genuinely help real women. And if we do hear anything back we WILL share it.

Thank you for caring about strangers.







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