Milnrow businesswoman appeals for once loved handbags for domestic abuse survivors

Date published: 17 October 2021


A local businesswoman has become the lead north west co-ordinator for an international charity, coinciding with the celebration of her shop’s one year anniversary.

Julie Deane, owner of Maggie J’s Baby Store in Milnrow, began volunteering with Hopefull Handbags - a charity ‘giving hope to domestic abuse survivors one handbag at a time’ – in August.

The global charity, originally founded in America, delivers once loved or new handbags filled with essentials such as soap, toothpaste, hairbrushes, feminine products, and other necessities to domestic abuse survivors in shelters, social service programmes, and survivors that reach out to Hopefull Handbags.

There are currently seven Hopefull Handbags affiliates spanning five continents including Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, South Africa, the USA and more recently, England and Wales – and local Julie Deane jumped at the chance to volunteer in the north west.

“As I have been overwhelmed with support over the last year, I want to be able to give back to the community and I love the ethics and ideas of Hopefull Handbags,” she said.

“This is a new charity to the UK but was founded by Cathlene Miner in America. After seeing her grandmother live in and deal with domestic violence daily, she knew at a young age that something had to change.

“Domestic abuse occurs everywhere, at all economic levels, and takes many forms. In fact, in England and Wales, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales year ending March 2020, an estimated 2.3 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year.”

Hopefull Handbags mission is to raise awareness about domestic abuse and to provide hope, help, and support to survivors. It serves as a bridge organisation for survivors as they restructure their lives in a safe, productive, and positive direction.

The charity has partnered with business Maggie J’s to provide a local donation drop-off point, meaning that people in the community wanting to donate their handbags or other items can easily do so.

As a volunteer, Julie Deane will inspect each bag for defects before cleaning and filling the handbags with essentials and tagging each bag so that shelter staff know the bag is safe. Then, they are delivered to local centres where they are needed, so all the bags stay within the community.

Julie continued: “Along with the typical essentials, the handbags have inspirational notes from other women and a journal with instructions on how to journal to improve self-perception. Receiving the Hopefull Handbags full of these essentials shows survivors that the community cares about them, providing the hope needed to get excited about a limitless future.

“We are working with Refuge UK to find locally funded shelters and I am also looking for volunteers to help pack the bags ready for distribution and other drop off points throughout the north west.”

If you would like to donate to the Hopefull Handbags cause, or if you are interested in volunteering, please visit:

Maggie Js Baby Store
3 Bridge Street
Milnrow
Rochdale
OL16 3ND

Speaking on the stores one year anniversary, Julie said: “It’s been a crazy year, but it was the right decision. I have loved every minute helping growing families find the right purchase for them, albeit a travel system, furniture, or car seats. Every day has been an absolute pleasure.”

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