Lynette grew up in Chorley, Lancashire. Her father came to the United Kingdom from Jamaica when he was nine and growing up, he taught Lynette the moral values that guide her life and work - that it is every individual’s birth right to be respected, to be heard and to be cared for – values that she has passed onto her three children. After working in the make-up industry for 23 years, she wanted to do something more to help people.
With her friend Rachel O’Hare, who had worked in women’s refuges, she collected toiletries, haircare, cosmetics and other personal health items – beginning in their own cupboards – from other women, so that they could be donated to women and children in local refuges.
Discovering that there was no charity in the northwest of England doing this, they established Elle for Elle.
ACTING TO MAKE HUMAN RIGHTS
Their campaign ‘Dignity in Distress’ hit national headlines, raising awareness that many domestic abuse victims used make-up to conceal physical injuries, and often fled abusers without even a toothbrush. Providing survivors with these basic items enabled them to maintain their dignity and self-respect as they started their journey to recovery.
Within two years Elle for Elle had distributed more than 200,000 items to women, children and men fleeing domestic violence, as well as to refugees, and women escaping domestic slavery and sexual exploitation.
Is there a moment that inspired you to take action?
Imagine you had to leave where you are right now, in only the clothes you are wearing, not even a bag and with no money. You have to stay in a room in a town 20 miles away where you don’t know anyone and can’t contact anyone for your own safety. What things that you use every day would you miss the most after a week? [Extension tasks: Use this as a discussion point in pairs. Consider the cost of having to buy all these items. How much would you spend if you thought you might have to go somewhere else the next week?]
You have to fill a shoebox with non-food items that you have in your bedroom or bathroom to donate to a refugee girl the same age as you who speaks little English. What would you put in the box? If you could add a single sheet of paper and write a short note in very simple English to make that young person feel better, what would you say? [Extension activity: Compare what you have chosen to what is shown in this video from Lynette and Rachel, and on some of the links below].
Why do you think that it is important for women and girls to have access to hair and body care products and cosmetics if they found themselves having to escape a dangerous situation? How do you think this would be different for men or boys who found themselves in a similar situation? How would you start feel if you had no access to soap, shampoo, toothpaste, or other products for 48 hours? For a week? For a month? How would you feel if you had to ask other people to borrow these things if you had no money?
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What in your human rights life makes you proud?
What does hope mean to you?
Who inspired you and why?
How do you make human rights a reality?
What do human rights mean to you?
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
What piece of advice would you give?
How has someone else given you hope?