This year, we’re giving you nothing (but Kindness) for Christmas
5 minutes read time | 2 December 2019
Every year, we get sent loads of Christmas gifts from partners, vendors and even customers. And, in previous years, we’ve sent loads out as well.
But this year, we’re not sending out any gifts at all… and we hope to not receive any either.
It’s not that we’re ungrateful for your generosity, and it’s not that we don’t want to express our thanks to you for your support over the years.
It’s that we already have so much, yet there are those in the world – in fact, in our very own neighbourhood – who need it much more.
So, this year, we aren’t buying any of you Christmas gifts, and we are asking you to not buy us any either.
Instead, we will be spending the money we would have spent on you on something else… and if you’re planning to buy us a gift, we instead prevail upon you to contribute to something else: Kindness Bags.
What are Kindness Bags?
Kindness Bags are backpacks filled with essential items and goodies for homeless women in need. Many of these women have escaped abusive environments, or have fallen on hard times, and often are with children in tow. The streets are an unsafe environment at the best of times – and the risk is infinitely multiplied for vulnerable women.
The Kindness Bags are delivered to a number of different shelters around London. These shelters, run by charities like Crisis, exist in secret locations around London (they’re kept secret to protect vulnerable women from their abusers). Each shelter will provide beds, meals and comfort for hundreds of women during the festive period, when it is coldest outside, and when our collective charity is needed the most.
The Kindness Bags themselves are filled with useful things. Things like gloves to help ward off London’s frigid winter nights, and sanitary products to help maintain basic hygienic standards, a basic human right rendered immeasurably difficult when you are vulnerable and living on the streets.
Kindness Bags also include handwritten notes of good tidings and encouragement, written by the people – including the Phrasee team, and maybe even you as well – who help to assemble the bags. Why? Because we all need encouragement, especially when it feels like the world has forgotten you.
How is Phrasee helping?
We have supported Kindness Bags for some time now. Two years ago, our old office in southwest London was used as a local collection point (note: a collection point is a regional location where people drop off donated goods).
We moved to a big office in Vauxhall, central London, 1.5 years ago, and we have decided to increase our efforts to support this cause. In addition to donating all money we were going to spend on buying gifts, our headquarters, which is on the River Thames overlooking the Houses of Parliament, will serve as the main collection and distribution centre for the entire city-wide project.
Over the coming weeks, local collection points (all volunteers) will collect bag donations. Then, they will be dropped off to Phrasee’s HQ (week of 9 December) and the Phrasee team, along with volunteers representing our partners, vendors and customers, will do the final sorting. Finally, we will bring them to a central distribution hub and they will then be delivered to local shelters by associated charities (week of 19 December).
How can YOU help?
At this festive time of year, the Christmas gift giving racket is in full swing across businesses worldwide. Cards, hampers, bottles of bubbly – you name it – land on an office desk near you.
Instead of giving and receiving gift baskets this holiday season, we are supporting Kindness Bags and encouraging Phrasee phriends, partners and customers (that’s you!) to join us in showing your support.
You can support the initiative in the following ways:
- Create a kindness bag. The deadline for bag donations is 10 December (individual collection points may be earlier). You can find more information on how to build a bag here.
- Donate money towards delivering kindness bags by visiting the Just Giving page by 11 December. All donations made will go to filling bags with additional items and surplus will go directly to associated charities.
For the avoidance of doubt: if you were planning to send us a gift, thank you! But please instead donate to the JustGiving page above or come help us organize the donations in the coming weeks.
If you’re not in London and/or you’d prefer to donate to another worthy cause in your neighbourhood, we wholeheartedly encourage your generosity. Again, please do so in lieu of sending us gifts.
Why we’re supporting Kindness Bags
We’d like to make a difference this winter by sharing a tiny piece of our success with those less fortunate. Often the reason why women end up homeless is because of abusive and unsafe relationships, and it’s these women, often forgotten and marginalized by society, who truly need our help.
Kindness Bags was founded in October 2015 by photographers Lucy Williams, Kat Hill, and Yolande De Vries. Over the last four years Kindness Bags has been supported by huge volumes of kind individuals and groups of people. They’ve given their time and resources to make bags, run collection points across London, help sort and deliver bags, write greeting cards to go in bags, raise awareness about the project, fundraise and so on.
What we at Phrasee particularly love about this cause is how it’s organic. There’s no charity-industrial complex involved. It’s simply people who want to help, who self-organise, who want to do good for their neighbourhood, and who expect nothing in return.
For more information about the initiative and how you can help, please visit the Kindness Bags Facebook page.
Join us in helping make our neighbourhood a tiny bit kinder
They say charity begins at home. We agree.
By supporting Kindness Bags, you are making a difference to vulnerable women in our neighbourhood and we thank you for your generosity.
We CAN’T right all the wrongs in the world.
But we CAN make the holidays a little bit better for a few people who will really appreciate it.
Kindness Bags founders Kat Hill, Lucy Williams and Yolande De Vries
All images in this post belong to Lucy Williams Photography