Ever wondered how Homeless Women Cope?
Imagine you are a homeless woman in Geelong. No shelter. No food…..and resorting to the use of toilet paper from public toilets as a substitute for expensive sanitary products.
Enter Geelong Period Project (GPP). Manager, Kat Ligakis explains this in the interview below:
1. What do you do?
I manage the Geelong Period Project which is a hub of the Melbourne Period Project. We collect donations of sanitary items from the general public and pack them into our Period Packs for distribution to women experiencing homelessness in Barwon South West region which encompasses Geelong, Surf Coast, Bellarine, Colac, Warrnambool and Portland.
2. Why do it / what issues do you encounter?
There are many items that people experiencing homelessness need access to. It was found that sanitary products were one thing that was overlooked so the Period Project was started. It means that women sleeping rough or in transitional housing now have access to essential items when their period comes instead of resorting to toilet paper or other unsatisfactory items.
3. What led you to get involved with this?
I know what’s it’s like to need help and I feel as though being involved with GPP, enables me to give back and help others in similar and more dire situations. When I was about 5 years old, my very young Mum had to leave the family home. I’m one of 4 kids and being the eldest, I remember us having to stay in a women’s refuge in another town.
I’d always thought about the homeless needing food, shelter and blankets but until a friend shared the Melbourne Period Project (MPP) page on Facebook, I’d never really thought about sanitary products being needed. I couldn’t believe I’d never considered this most basic essential need before.
I wanted to donate but then realised if I got my girlfriends involved then we could put together a bigger donation. So I hosted an afternoon tea (I love to bake) and asked everyone to bring along sanitary items. Once we had our afternoon tea, I contacted MPP and discovered that while they had a Geelong drop off point, all the items would be distributed in Melbourne. Yes – they would still be helping people in need but what about those in need in Geelong? After talking to one of the founders, to find out what they needed in Geelong, so that the items could help women here – I got involved.
4. What’s the highlight of your involvement?
I really do love to help people. Knowing that through GPP we’re making a difference to people’s daily lives, really inspires me. I’ve met so many amazing, generous and kind people since becoming involved with GPP.
Around Christmas time we ran a Handbag Appeal, where people donated a handbag full of toiletries and gifts for distribution around our area. I was relayed the story of a woman in her early 20’s receiving one of these handbags. She was overwhelmed with emotion at receiving one of the handbags which had toiletries, a gift and a small envelop inside. She found a beautifully written Christmas card and $20 which was so kindly donated by a stranger. The woman handed back the handbag and asked if she could have another one. The agency worker asked her why and through her grateful tears she exclaimed that while it was such a beautiful card and handbag, there were other women that needed that money more than she did.
My involvement with this amazing organisation has really shown me just how amazing people can be. They really are kind, thoughtful and generous – this is my highlight!
5. How can other people get involved?
We have drop off points at businesses, and volunteers around Geelong. People can contact us via our Facebook page for their nearest volunteer opportunities or see details of the businesses taking donations.