A Lincoln society is collecting handbags to raise money for the Grace Millane charity

‘It is a very cathartic way to process our grief,’ Grace’s family said

University of Lincoln’s Biology Society is collecting handbag donations for the Love Grace charity, set up in the memory of Lincoln student Grace Millane. 

In December 2018, Grace Millane was murdered whilst visiting New Zealand. In her honour, the Love Grace organisation is gathering handbags due to Grace’s love for bags. Working with woman’s refugee, Changing Pathways, Love Grace came up with a list of useful items that would be suitable for their female clients that will go into the handbags. 

The collection point is at the Tipi on campus and is welcome to donations for the whole of February. The Tipi’s opening hours are 11am – 3pm. Additionally, students can donate to the Student Wellbeing Centre.

The contributions will be given to EDAN Lincs, an organisation that is described as “a local team that support those impacted by abuse, in memory of UoL student Grace Millane with the blessing of Hannah from Love Grace UK”.

Student Wellbeing said it has decided to support EDAN Lincs to raise awareness for people “affected by sexual violence, domestic abuse, stalking & harassment”.

The Love Grace organisations works to spread knowledge and increase awareness of male violence against women. The Lincoln Tab spoke with Hannah O’Callaghan, Grace Millane’s cousin and the founder of Love Grace. Hannah said she set up the Love Grace organisation to raise money for the White Ribbon charity in both the UK and New Zealand that engages men and boys to end violence against women and girls.

Hannah detailed how the organisation has brought Grace’s friends and family closer together as they all help out with collecting donations and with the organisation as a whole.

“It is a very cathartic way to process our grief, making something positive out of a negative,” Hannah said.

The Love Grace charity first started with a target of 50 bags in October 2019 and has now gone on to distribute over 13,000 handbags across the UK, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Singapore, and Kenya.

“The handbags contain essentials to help out those who have to leave their home, often without any personal belongings.

“Each bag has a tag tied on with white ribbon to show our support for The White Ribbon charity.  The logo was drawn by Grace as she was an extremely talented artist, and ‘Love Grace’ is taken from the last card she wrote to her Mum, Gillian.”

As a small gift for the women who arrive, some bags are placed on the bed of the refuge accommodation whilst some bags are kept in hospitals for women who arrive without anything and are unable to return home due to safety concerns. Love Grace also keep some bags in police stations for women who need to be placed in safe houses.

“We like to think this is a fitting legacy for Grace, as it is a gift packed with Love from Grace’s friends and family,” Hannah said.

There is more information on the Love Grace website about the items it recommends to place inside the bag and where the drop off points are.

It is never the victim’s fault when domestic violence occurs.  If you or someone you know is experiencing any form of sexual abuse and violence, you can contact the freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247. You can also find local support near you via Woman’s Aid

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