Sharing Bags of Love around Bedford

Mel Stratton

A woman from Putnoe has taken inspiration from the other side of the world to bring comfort to others closer to home.

Mel Stratton saw a Facebook post that her sister, who lives in Adelaide, had shared. It was about an Australian charity initiative called It’s In theBag, providing essentials to women in need.

The concept is simple: find a handbag that you no longer use. Fill it with essentials such as shampoo, sanitary products, face wipes, tissues etc… and it will be donated to women in crisis.

After talking it through with friends and family, Mel decided to take the plunge and create Love in a Bag Bedford . She set up a Facebook page on 2 October to get the ball rolling and has been overwhelmed by the response. “My husband and his family run Amorco Transport Limited and immediately offered to be a drop off point,” said Mel. “It snowballed from there.”

Other businesses soon got in touch and drop off points now include Seventh Heaven Cakes in the Old Arcade, the Playhouse in Thurleigh, Bedford Heights in Brickhill and Treat Street at Riverside Bedford. And as an extra incentive, any child (accompanied by their parent) dropping off at Treat Street will be rewarded with a free scoop of ice cream. A full list of products (plus those that are unsuitable) and drop off points can be found on the Bags of Love Facebook page.

“I help out at a couple of local charity projects that help women and know there is a need for this,” said Mel. “I believe that if you’re in a position to pay something forward then you should do it. If we all look out for other people it’s the one thing that potentially could make a huge difference.”

In addition to essential products, Mel is encouraging donors to include ahandwritten note for the recipient. “We will be donating the bags to women in crisis, women who may have left their family home with nothing but their children. We want to let those women know that someone is thinking of them and cares about them. A heart-felt note will let them know that they are not insignificant; that someone does care.”

Mel’s initiative is not only spreading love in Bedford. Women from Thame and Clacton have been in touch to set up similar projects in their towns.