News Script: Lewisham Bra Brigade
MA coursework 2016
Cue: In the last months, hundreds of Brits have travelled to Greece eager to join aid efforts helping refugees. Many have been active on the islands and back home in collecting donations and redistributing basic necessities. But one of the most basic items often gets forgotten. Underwear. New local initiatives are now focusing on collecting more of the items that rarely get donated but are in high demand. One such initiative is the Lewisham Bra Brigade.
Donna Greaves is one of the people who volunteered in the migrant camps of Idomeni, Greece. She is the founder of the Lewisham Bra Brigade: a new initiative that gathers bras for refugee women. Donna, who works as a speech and language therapist, has started up what she calls a bra factory.
Donna Greaves, Founder of Lewisham Bra Brigade: Well bras are I mean, again, just something that lots of women were mentioning. I helped out a little bit at a big warehouse there and there weren't any bras. I mean you might get one or two coming through but there just weren't enough, considering there are thousands of women there.
She operates from her South London home where it’s become a family endeavour. In just a week, she’s managed to collect 150 bras, which her mother then hand-washes and packages before sending off to a volunteer centre in Northern Greece.
Donna asks that all bras are in good shape before reaching the women. With so many refugees unable to access the basic necessities they need, Donna says she hopes her small initiative will make a big difference.
Donna Greaves, Founder of Lewisham Bra Brigade: There are breastfeeding women, pregnant women. So, yeah I just thought, well that's something that I can do because it's just me really. That's something I can start with at least, and get that going. I think it's difficult asking people for money sometimes. And I wanted something practical that people would understand. I know that it's something that people here have lots of and they aren't using.
Through social media groups Donna has been able to capture the attention of over 700 people, some of whom have expressed interest in donating.
She regularly visits eight drop-off locations set up in cafes, pubs, and studios across South East London to collect bags of bras donators have left. Although Donna’s enterprise is unique, she is not alone in her efforts of refugee aid.
Tess Berry-Heart, Calais Action coordinator: After the publication of photos of dead children on the Turkish beach, it suddenly seemed like the world wanted to give us its donated goods. There's a large amount of potential for liaising with thousands and thousands of people. On your own, it's a really tough gig, but when there are thousands of you it's a lot easier.
With such a great turn out, Donna says she expects to send her first bulk of bras in the next few weeks.
This is Bethlehem Feleke for City News.
In: Donna Greaves is…
Out: …for City News.
Co-authored by Anna Fleck and Bethlehem Feleke