15 January 2020

Amanda Holden, Anita Rani and Michelle Keegan all support British Red Cross campaign to have a ‘clear out for a good cause’

Two women browse British Red Cross charity shop for It Starts With Her UK Aid Match campaign raising money for women in Barashal, Bangladesh

As survey reveals almost half of women admit they own too many clothes:

  • Over a third of women admit the amount of clothes they own makes them feel guilty 
  •  70% of women admitted they have bought a piece of clothing and never worn it
  • Almost half of women admit they own too many clothes
  • British Red Cross launches new campaign It starts with her and aims to raise £2m, which the UK government will double to £4m
  • Public can donate to It starts with her appeal to help make strong women stronger by visiting: redcross.org.uk/itstartswithher 
  • The cash will help women in the slums of Bangladesh create businesses and build communities through British Red Cross programmes 

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, It starts with her, looks to encourage women in the UK to change the lives of women in 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, is backing the campaign and is encouraging women across the country to get involved: "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." 

Actress Michelle Keegan echoes this and is calling on the public to follow her lead to "donate with a declutter." She says: “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% 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.”  
The British Red Cross has teamed up with the UK government, through UK Aid Match, so that every pound given, up to the value of £2m, will be doubled. With your help, the British Red Cross can turn £2m into £4m. That’s thousands of strong women – and, as a result, stronger communities – supported to be even stronger.  
All of the money raised from women’s clothes and accessories donated between January and March will fund It starts with her, making strong women stronger. To find out where your local British Red Cross shop is, visit redcross.org.uk/shop  

For further information and assets 

Please email press@redcross.org.uk or call 0207 877 7557 for more information, images and videos or to arrange spokespeople. 

Spokespeople available:

Zoe Abrams, Executive Director of Communications and Advocacy, British Red Cross

Akriti Farmahan, PR Manager, British Red Cross (recently returned from Barishal, Bangladesh)

Notes to editor  

  • Online survey of 2,050 UK adult women carried out by Opinium for the British Red Cross between 29 November – 3 December 2019 
  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Opinium.  
  • UK Aid Match brings charities, the British public and the UK government together to collectively change the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. 
  • It is designed to provide opportunities for the UK public to engage with international development issues and have a say in how UK aid is spent, whilst boosting the impact of the very best civil society projects to reach the poorest people in developing countries. 
  • For every £1 donated to a UK Aid Match charity appeal, the government will also contribute £1 of UK aid, to help these projects go further in changing and saving lives. UK Aid Match is funded from the international development budget, for donations made by individuals living in the UK. 
  • The appeal will launch on 10th January 2020 and end on 7th April. All clothes purchased up to the 31st March will be eligible for match funding. 
  • Barishal, in south-central Bangladesh, is one of the oldest cities and biggest river ports of the country.  
  • British Red Cross have partnered with TikTok, the short-form video platform to get people to find unworn items of clothing in their wardrobe, put them all on, and then donate them to their local charity shop. Visit https://vm.tiktok.com/BRCShopDrop to get involved.  
  • For over 150 years, the British Red Cross has helped people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies. We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them recover and move on with their lives. www.redcross.org.uk  

Amanda Holden Anita Rani and Michelle Keegan all support British Red Cross campaign