Earlier this year Caroline Glasner encountered asylum seekers in London, and the experience had a profound effect on her. She was shocked at how destitute they appeared, and how much they lacked even the basic necessities of life. When it was mentioned that new underwear would be gladly welcomed, Glasner began her campaign, which was her project in Landmark Education's Self-Expression and Leadership Programme. Glasner explains the actions she took to have her project be realized:
"I enlisted 100 people to do a sponsered walk via the centre wearing their undies over their clothing and asking for sponsorship in the form of undies. I also approached local underwear retailers for donations. Tesco printed up t-shirts for all the walkers and gave £750. Figleaves.com donated 1,000 items of lingerie and every organization I contacted bar one made a donation. The generosity of individuals too was incredible, and I have received literally hundreds of donations and messages of support and encouragement."
"The walk took place on October12th–It was amazing, and I have had so many messages from people who took part saying what a wonderful and special day it was."
The totals raised are still rising, but they are now in excess of 4,500 pairs of underwear and £5,700.
Celebrities including Hollywood star Tilda Swinton are donating their customized and signed undies for a Celebrity Undies Auction, which Glasner is now organizing. She is also working towards making the walk an annual event and to have hundreds more walkers raising money, underwear and awareness of destitute communities. Glasner has been contacted by other charities looking to get involved.
The project raised both a large sum of money and clothing for the asylum seekers, but it also brought significant attention to their plight. She has now gotten several celebrities involved.The Hendon News, a Times Series newspaper owned by Gannett, wrote an article about the campaign.
Bra-vo for fundraiser
By Kevin Bradford
A maverick mother displayed her drawers this weekend in a bid to collect thousands of sets of underwear for asylum seekers.
Caroline Glasner, 43, of North Crescent, Finchley, began the Desperately Seeking Undies movement earlier this year after meeting asylum seekers at a drop-in centre, run by New North London Synagogue volunteers.She said she was shocked that people were living with little help or understanding after fleeing oppression and persecution.
“I came across the drop-in centre and what I saw was very moving,” she said. “I was shocked by the level of destitution. They were having to queue for food parcels. They were desperate. I felt I had to do something.”
Ms Glasner began her campaign after some women suggested a collection of new underwear would be welcomed. On Sunday, Ms Glasner was joined by about 100 people who paraded around Finchley wearing knickers to raise the profile of the asylum seekers’ plight.
Ms. Glasner said: “It was a fantastic event and we were blessed with the most amazing weather which helped the incredible atmosphere. “My dream is to make this into something much bigger and that a charity might come out of this. I hope it can go wherever I can take it.”
She has raised more than £5,000 so far and collected at least 4,000 items of underwear which will be sorted and distributed to women. Several celebrities have donated signed underwear which Ms. Glasner hopes to auction in the new year.
Diane Taylor, co-organiser of the monthly drop-in service at Old Barn Community Centre, in Fallows Close, East Finchley, said: “The main reason for choosing underwear was to use it as a metaphor for destitution, because they can’t even afford those items. We are very grateful for Caroline’s work. She has done an amazing job.”To donate, email caroline [email protected] or see mycharitypage.com/desperatelyseekingundies. For details on the drop-in centre, contact Diane Taylor on 07966 145098.