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Happy Handbag

2038. Jeanne Long

Jeanne Long, from Bristol, founded ‘Happy Handbag’, which has distributed over 4,200 bags containing essential items to vulnerable women across the South West fleeing domestic abuse, who are homeless or in crisis.

Jeanne was inspired to create ‘Happy Handbag’ in 2016, after seeing a friend’s social media post that read: ‘If you see a lady without a handbag, give her one of yours’. This was followed a couple of days later by her watching a TV programme about a character becoming homeless and left with only a handbag. The initiative uses donated handbags and fills them with essentials including hygiene products, as well as luxury items such as make-up to help restore confidence, before being donated to Service Providers to distribute. Jeanne often gives talks to local women’s groups and, following the pandemic, is starting to rebuild a network for donations, to make it easier for products to be contributed to the cause.

Initially starting in Bristol, ‘Happy Handbag’ expanded its remit with the inclusion of Happy Bags or ‘Happy’s’ as more people started donating other items including clothing and bedding.  Ad-hoc donations are received from many diverse areas from individuals to groups and schools and these are taken to the Service Providers that Jeanne now works with across Bristol, Bridgewater, Gloucester and Swindon to distribute the bags to those in need.  

In a personal letter to Jeanne, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: 

For someone going through the toughest of times, an act of kindness can make all the difference. That is why your idea is so powerful. You have reached out to thousands of women across the South West, just when they need it the most.

By giving the gift of a handbag, filled not just with essentials but make up and other luxury items, you have helped those women to rebuild their confidence.

Jeanne said:

“To say that I am astounded to be receiving the Points of Light award is an understatement. Yes, it was quite a challenge keeping ‘Happy Handbag’ going through Covid and then rebuilding, but the need is greater than ever now, especially in today’s climate. ‘Happy Handbag’ couldn’t keep going without the regular donations coming in and I feel that this award will, hopefully, highlight the challenges so many people are facing and shows those donating that, no matter how large or small their contribution may be, there will always be someone who will benefit, someone who will realise that people really do care.”

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