Wash Bags Project
HRH Duchess of Cornwall Launches Wash Bags Project
On 14th March HRH the Duchess of Cornwall visited Boots UK, Nottingham, to launch a wash bag scheme, which aims to provide extra comfort to people who have undergone a Forensic Medical Examination (FME), at a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).
HRH the Duchess of Cornwall first had the idea of helping survivors of sexual abuse or rape about five years ago and has worked closely with SARCs, talking to clients and staff about what could be done to help survivors feel cared for. The idea of giving wash bags to people who had undergone a forensic medical examination resulted from these visits.
At the launch HRH the Duchess of Cornwall explained that “I wanted to find a practical way of helping women and girls and men who have been left traumatised, through no fault of their own, to have some comfort at such a distressing time.” The bags, which include toothpaste, toothbrush, shower gel, shampoo, deodorant, body lotion and hand cream, were first put together by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall and her staff at Clarence House and were piloted at the three Havens SARCs in London. Boots UK and their volunteers are supporting this scheme, meaning that these wash bags will be available in all 49 SARCs across the UK.
Deborah Hooton, Service Manager of The Topaz Centre (Nottinghamshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre), comments: “The support that SARCs offer to clients helps to improve their mental and physical health outcomes after they have been affected by sexual violence and enables them to gain some control back into their lives. We offer a safe place to consider options about reporting to the Police, accessing medical examinations and giving forensic evidence. Often clients are in shock when they attend the forensic medical examination and they may have been asked ‘not to bathe or wash.’ By supplying these wash bags, which clients can use at the centre and also take home with them, we are able to provide some comfort and the message that ‘we care for you and will continue caring for you.’ Clients may also access on-going support from The Topaz Centre to help them through Police investigations and our team will support clients to access other services such as counselling.’’
We are very pleased that this scheme, initiated by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, is now available to survivors attending SARCs across the UK. We hope that it, along with the specialist care and assistance provided by our staff at The Topaz Centre, both during and after a sexual assault, will help survivors to feel comforted and supported as they regain control of their lives.
If you want to find out more about the services we offer through The Topaz Centre, you can access their page here.