Founded in 2015, Blessing Bags is a Melbourne-based initiative that believes strongly in creating equality for all. Its primary focus is to provide people in need – mainly the marginalised and those experiencing homelessness – with essential items that the rest of us usually take for granted, such as dental and hygiene products.
Director Hayley Gould says the organisation aims for a judgment-free and accessible approach that enables Blessing Bags to spark meaningful change through small, everyday acts of kindness. “We know now more than ever that unfortunately times can be tough,” Hayley says, “but people are people nonetheless and no matter their background or current situation, they always deserve a helping hand.”
Each Blessing Bag contains:
• A toothbrush and toothpaste;
• Shampoo and conditioner;
• Soap/body wash;
• Sanitary pads;
• A muesli bar;
• Extra donated items such as socks, sanitizer and lip balm; and,
• A note ensuring love and inspiring hope.
Hayley says that with the help of its “amazing volunteers”, Blessing Bags makes and distributes up to 500 bags quarterly through its partner organisations, such as crisis centres, and through hand-deliveries.
People experiencing homelessness or those at risk of homelessness are some of the most vulnerable people in the state. At the last Census, it was calculated there were more than 24,825 homeless people in Victoria, with the government acknowledging that the real number would be significantly higher than this. While sleeping rough is the most visible form of homelessness, it accounts for only 7 per cent of people experiencing homelessness. Hayley says the majority of cases are hidden, with most living in severely crowded dwellings, shelters cars, or couch-surfing. Melbourne’s homelessness crisis is also getting worse, with people who were already vulnerable being pushed further into danger due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are always in need of donations of toiletries in order to help us put together our bags,” Hayley says. “We are completely volunteer-run so are limited in our scope without the generosity of the community. We also have our annual trivia night/silent auction fundraiser coming up in September and it would be amazing to see our community there.”
For more information about Blessing Bags and their upcoming events, follow Blessing Bags on Facebook @BlessingBagsxx and Instagram @blessingbagsmelbourne. Visit www.blessingbagsmelbourne.com or email email@example.com if you’re interested in getting involved in any way. “We would love to chat with you,” says Hayley.