According to Oxfam, 821 million people go to bed hungry every night. Statistically, that is 11% of the world’s population. Realistically, it’s a terrifying and distressing fact that cannot be challenged without the help of those who can. Lorraine Keane, journalist and philanthropist, has decided to use her public persona to help combat this crisis to raise essential funding for the affected areas and to increase awareness for the issues occurring in the world around us. The fashionista spoke to GALWAYnow and Rebecca Reilly about her upcoming fundraising event Fashion Relief and her recent trips to the developing world. Lorraine-Keane-with-children-in-Millennium-Camp---a-camp-for-internally-displaced-people---in-Dire-Dawa,-Ethiopia_66A5308

“Initially I came up with the idea for Fashion Relief after a post I saw on Oxfam’s Facebook”, reveals the mum of two. With a global hunger crisis and the worst hunger famine the world has seen gripping some of the poorest nations, Lorraine was startled by two observations. “In just 12 months from that date, there would be one million more people dead. Not only that, but I work in broadcasting and media and yet this fact was completely new to me. How could this not be making headline news?” Having made regular trips to the developing world every year for the last eight years, working with various aid agencies and NTO’s, the former Xposé star was struck with how she could help. “I have a different career to most, I wanted to do something that I would enjoy, and something I know a lot about, which is fashion. I approached Oxfam with my idea and so Fashion Relief was born.”

“It’s sad when people say there is no possible way to end these disasters. That’s not an excuse.”

Lorraine Keane with Idil Hussein and her baby of the Sheik Bilal Community Somaliland



Journeying to and from the developing world, Keane soon realised the stark difference between the world’s poorest nations and our first world way of life – consumption. “We just have so much. When I think of all the clothes and accessories I have gathered over the years and the pieces that were gifted to me by designers and boutiques. If I could just sell one of those designer pieces worth, let’s say €200, for €20 on the day? That would feed a family for a week, perhaps even two weeks.” These trips are not ones that Lorraine looks forward to by any means, but the broadcaster feels it her duty of care because of her fortunate career, and extensive public reach. “It’s sad when people say there is no possible way to end these disasters. That’s not an excuse. These people were born into locations that suffer extreme natural disasters, through no fault of their own. Climate change is a much bigger issue in the developing world. Drought used to hit approximately every 10 years, and it would take a further two years to get out of drought. Now, these people are being struck with drought every two years. It’s impossible to get out of drought, they are caught in a vicious cycle. They cannot afford to leave, they have nowhere to turn. We are the lucky ones, we have far more than we need, so why wouldn’t we want to help?”

“I think it is the will of any human being to survive.”


Having raised €60,000 at Fashion Relief in the RDS last year, the project is now going nationwide. Taking place here in The Galmont Hotel & Spa  in Galway on Sunday 19th May, it is easier than ever to get involved. “There are so many ways to get on board. The obvious one is coming along to the event, if you buy tickets in advance you can skip the queue on the day. You can pay at the door on the day too. You can also donate. We are looking for items in good condition, perhaps barely worn or impulse buys that still have labels, unwanted Christmas gifts, that’s the kind of stuff we’re looking for,” she explains. “People can also join in on the fun and help sell on the day. We have stock and we need people to sell it. You can even encourage your company to do a work place donation drive. We will deliver a container to your place of work and ask that staff donate what they can. We will come back, collect the containers, and sell on the goods. With an entrance fee of just €10, all proceeds raised will go directly to the charity, and to the people who need it. “I will personally be bringing over the money myself,” Lorraine explains. “And I will be coming back and reporting on it. I think it’s imperative that people see that, and know that. Despite not being able to mention any names, Lorraine assures us the line-up of celebs are as stellar as last year, alongside some of our well-loved stores such as Design House Barna, Olivia Danielle, Anne-Marie’s Boutique, Premoli and The Galway Hat Shop, the wares are sure to be of the highest quality and style. “Everyone in the west has been so supportive of the event. From the team at The Galmont to the wonderful Mandy Maher from Catwalk Model Agency and Caroline Downey from Carried Away PR, everything from rails, models, and PR has been gifted to us,” she beams. “Ultimately, that means more money can go where it needs to. Local businesses, designers and milliners have also been so generous – you’re a creative bunch in Galway, there must be something in the water!”

“Let’s give these people the power to help themselves.”

Residents of Millennium Camp-a camp for internally displaced people in Dire-Dawa Ethiopia


With free fashion shows throughout the day, as well as raffles and an auction, guests will get a chance to watch a host of celebs strut their stuff on the catwalk, donning their wares. “It’s a fantastic atmosphere in the room, and the bargains are unbelievable. But the most important thing is helping these people. To get out there and give them the tools they need to survive. I think it is the will of any human being to survive. Whether we can provide them with a well for safe drinking water, which in turns means irrigation and a chance to battle drought, or teach them to farm and provide them with the means to do so. It means we can give them independence, along with the skills and resources to be self-sufficient, that’s what it’s all about. It’s not so long ago that we in Ireland were in similar situations ourselves, so I ask you to come along, help in any way you can, and let’s give these people the power to help themselves.”

FASHION RELIEF will take place in The Galmont Hotel & Spa on Sunday 19th May from 11am until 5pm with tickets priced at just €10. The event will showcase rails of designer and premium clothes and accessories starting at just €5, with pre-loved celebrity donations and brand new items from designers and retailers across the nation. Attendees will also enjoy two free fashion shows and get advice and styling tips from leading Irish stylists and social influencers on the day. All profits will support Oxfam’s work in some of the world’s poorest countries, helping people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive as well as saving lives when disaster strikes.

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