In 2016, Sass Clothing began working with The Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne, donating essential clothing items to assist vulnerable women in their care. Following the overwhelming success of this partnership, Betty Cares Foundation was created out of passion by the Sass Clothing owners Talitha Becker and Sandy Cameron.
Susie Greig-Rouffignac, then Philanthropic Manager at The Royal Women’s Hospital had identified an extraordinary need for new suitable clothing for vulnerable patients, because she “saw women from interstate go into early labour with no support, assault victims whose clothes were taken for evidence, homeless women who still needed medical care and more”. When these women presented in crisis, the nurses and social workers would scramble trying to source something suitable from the few second-hand items they had available. Talitha and Sandy have always been passionate about giving back to the community and when Susie called to request clothing donations to help vulnerable women, it was the perfect match.
“Talitha and I had been talking for some time about developing a philanthropic arm to the business and Susie’s request just seemed like a natural fit. The most pleasing thing was how positively our customers and particularly our team responded in those early days” - Sandy
Following a trial period, the impact of donating essential clothing items was assessed and the difference was immense. Susie said that “many of the women had never received a present or something new,” and it also gave the “nurses and social workers a sense of helping beyond medical care, the clothing enabled them to be more human and offer a sense of dignity and assurance to these women in crisis”. Kerri Felemonow, manager of The Women’s Alcohol and Drug Service at The Royal Women’s Hospital, added “having these items at hand can mean that the social workers and other staff can focus on meeting the needs and care requirements of the patient rather than running around trying to find something for them to wear”.
Following the incredible success of the trial, Betty Cares Foundation was established. Setting up the Foundation Talitha and Sandy did not have any lofty ambitions, “we just wanted to help vulnerable women” said Sandy, “the most impactful moment for us was a visit Susie arranged to meet some of the amazing case workers at The Royal Women’s Hospital and to hear first-hand the stories of their clients and how difficult some of their circumstances were. We came away from that day with an absolute commitment to doing what we could to help”.
What started as a small donation of clothing to The Royal Women’s Hospital has grown into the Betty Cares Foundation it is today. The Betty Cares clothing packs now come in sizes 6-22 and include essentials from the Betty Basics range - a top, cardigan and pair of pants - as well as 3 pairs of underwear, all enclosed in a tote bag. The Foundation has expanded and now partner with over 100 hospitals, refuge centres and organisations caring for women in crisis. Since Betty Cares Foundation was officially established with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission in August 2018, more than 7,000 clothing packs have been donated which equates to over $900,000 in value.
Betty Cares clothing packs - include a top, cardigan, pair of pants and 3 pairs of underwear
Four years into the Foundation Talitha and Sandy are proud of what they have achieved, having grown the healthcare partner network, expanding into New Zealand, and hearing about the impact the clothing packs make. The difference is immeasurable, as Kerri can testify, “the packs make an enormous difference to the care the Women’s provides [and] the impact has grown over the course of time and both patients and staff really value these packs. They are an invaluable resource”.
Into the future Talitha and Sandy are excited to continue to expand Betty Cares Foundation – we look forward “to continuing to grow, develop new opportunities for funding and continue to build on our partnerships across Australia and New Zealand”.
Help us to support more vulnerable women in need – if you know an organisation that helps women in crisis, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0448 943 099.