At the end of 2020, a conversation with a longstanding sister of Hyde Ward, Manchester Stake, brought a local women’s refuge to the attention of the ward’s Relief Society. The conversation highlighted the need for support of women fleeing domestic violence, particularly during times of the COVID pandemic.
This sister had once accessed the refuge as a place of safety, and a place she could receive the best advice for moving forward, following a crisis in her marriage.
Hyde Ward Relief Society made the decision to focus their service for 2021 on this often-hidden cause, and local women’s refuge, Ruffley House, were excited to receive the support.
In discussion with the refuge’s manager, it was jointly decided the support could be offered in the following ways:
- Collecting new and used bedding sets
- Collecting new and used towels
- Making tote toiletry bags for women on their arrival at the refuge
- Making drawstring toiletry bags for children
- Collecting toiletry and personal care items, over the course of the year, to fill the bags.
Unfortunately, these efforts coincided with the national COVID lockdown, but individuals and wards continued to set aside their donations in preparation for two collection days in March 2021.
In the meantime, monetary donations were made by individuals from the Ward and Stake, amounting to £1,000, which enabled the purchase of three Samsung tablets (for use by women and staff to make housing and benefit applications) and a garden shed.
The final donations of bedding and towels were astounding. Three large carloads were delivered and received by the staff of Ruffley House. They were thrilled to be able to replenish their own stocks of these precious items and share them with outreach teams supporting struggling families in the local area.
The toiletry-bag section of the project continued throughout 2021 in the Hyde Ward, the sewing team making 123 beautifully crafted bags and members collecting a selection of items each month for a final bag-packing night in January 2022.
The Relief Society President, Ruth Holt, commented: “We have, and continue to enjoy, the opportunity to serve; it has given us an opportunity to think of others when it would otherwise be easy to dwell on our own difficulties.” The manager of Ruffley House was effusive in her thanks: “I would like to say a huge thank you to yourself and all the amazing people who have put all their love and time into making up all the donations of the bedding, towels, and toiletries throughout the year, the many drop offs you did and the money raised to buy the wish-list items that we asked for. It is people like yourselves who recognise that others need support; the difference this makes for individuals is always visible for us to see.”
For 2022, Hyde’s Relief Society have moved on to their next project, working with a local charity called Cascade that provides support for children and families in need of the basics of life.