Look in a woman's handbag, atop her dresser, or in the depths of her bathroom and you will find an astonishing array of products. We are all guilty of overspending; hoarding items we will not use but cannot bear to throw away to waste. Beautician, Caroline Hirons knows just what to do with these unneeded "essentials".
Stephanie Mulholland reports.
Caroline is the founder of Give and Make Up, a non-profit initiative that aims to get everyday health and beauty essentials into the hands of the thousands of vulnerable women and children who have to flee due to domestic violence.
Founded in 2010, Give and Make Up work alongside well-known women's charities Refuge and Women's Aid. This is to enable those most in need some normality in their lives when things seem bleak and they are at their lowest. They have a primary aim, to boost the self-esteem of these woman and children.
When asked how Give and Make Up came to be, Caroline reflects on her guilt for those who have nothing as she attempted a blog post about essentials. Turning to gaze at her own colossal collection of products, she knew she had to do something and that led her to the Refuge website.
“We started as a blog post and a twitter account and we’ve pretty much stayed the same. It works for us – through word of mouth we have been in the Daily Mail, on local radio and in numerous magazines and blog posts”, says Caroline.
As a globally qualified facialist she has gathered an enviable collection of products in her sixteen years of professional work. Caroline is a beauty industry expert, specialising in skin care, a consultant to over eighty brands and friends with many in the industry. She is the third generation of her family in the profession.
Give and Make Up works by requesting donations from anyone and everyone. These include everyday items such as toiletries, beauty products, grooming accessories and clothing. They will accept any products as long as they are in a good and reusable condition. Caroline said: “If you would happily give it to a friend - we'll take it!”
However, Caroline reflects on how companies often prove hesitant to get involved with the cause. “Domestic violence isn’t one of the ‘attractive’ causes. We also have to take into consideration that some brands already have ‘official’ charities or causes and so it would seem a clash to work with us”, she adds.
When Caroline is not working endless hours beautifying and helping others, she likes nothing more than just pottering around her home amidst her family. “My ways to instantly switch off are reading, watching any US crime drama and I go to as many gigs as possible. Music is a great release”, she says.
The initiative has set up numerous drop-off points across the UK with the support of retailers and their dedicated public relations agent Clare Forde. “We could not reach the amount of people we do without the help of Clare, she serves as a collection point for our posted parcels, without ever asking for a penny. Our retailers also serve as regional collection and drop-off points for us and of course there are the people who send donations!”, says Caroline.
Head office has a homely location and is from the comfort of Caroline’s living room. Clare’s office is the donation point for London and the duo single-handedly do the administrative work for the entire initiative. The amount of donations has increased dramatically over these last two years. “We had our largest donations ever this Christmas, people were very generous”, Caroline adds.
These donations are hand-delivered to Refuge and Women’s Aid where they are distributed amongst women and their children. In response to whether Give and Make Up would be expanding to other organisations, Caroline said: “not at the moment, no – they have plenty of need and we have only just reached the tip of the iceberg.”
Caroline received the Woman of the Year award in 2011 for her admirable efforts in the creation of Give and Make Up. Caroline in response to the impressive achievement said: “It was a lovely surprise and very humbling to be honest. My family were proud but I don’t really talk about it with my extended family and friends. Although the recognition is appreciated, it’s not why I do it.”
She thanked all those who take an interest and have volunteered their time to support Give and Make Up. “Anything that raises awareness is always wonderful”, she added.
Refuge UK praised the initiative and said: “Items such as these are invaluable and have brought a lot of joy for the women who use our services. Refuge saves lives, helping over 1000 women and children every day to escape violence and build a safe and positive future. It is donations such as yours which make it possible and help make a difference.”
If you would like to donate, send your packages to Give and Makeup, c/o Clare Forde, Media & PR ltd, Unit 210, Black Bull Yard, 24 -28 Hatton Wall, London, EC1N 8JH.