Hygiene poverty is one of the many rising problems in the UK and other countries, but it’s not talked about as much as it needs to be. Campaigns like Bloody Good Period are doing invaluable work about raising awareness of the extreme measures some people are going through to manage their periods – from stuffing their vaginas with newspaper to missing work and school, but this is only one aspect of the problem.
One of the things we are told when we are going for job interviews, benefit assessments, medical appointments, social work appointments, etc, is to be clean and well dressed. But how do you prepare for these things if your income means you are forced to choose between food and shampoo? The Hygiene Bank is trying to tackle this by collecting new and unopened toiletries, beauty products, baby care items and detergent and distributing them to local food banks, refuges, school and other charities and institutions that care for some of our societies most vulnerable people.
Founder Lizzy Hall told a story to the Guardian about being in a food bank and seeing someone get excited about the possibility of getting a toothbrush and this spurring her on to take what started as a small local project on to a nationwide project involving 150 drop off points, 125 volunteers and that collected over 13 tonnes of products in 2018. I had a similar experience when I took my first donation into a local food bank to be distributed around their network; one volunteer found a carrier bag of sanitary towels and did a happy dance and hugged me. In an age of austerity, benefit cuts, not fit for purpose work capability assessments and an increasing amount of jobs that expect long hours for little pay, the use of food banks and charities like The Hygiene Bank has risen sharply and its up to those of us with a bit of spare cash to compensate. It shouldn’t be our job, but unfortunately it is.
The Hygiene Bank have launched their new Kickstarter campaign that desperately needs funding. #ItsInTheBag is funding a new project where people are provided with a duffle bag to keep in their home and fill up by buying a few extra products every time they shop. This bag is then distributed to local charity partners and directly to people in the area who are in need. Bags can also be given directly to your local schools and other services for people to take what they need from.
You can help by backing the Kickstarter, getting your own bag or buying some products and dropping them at your local drop-off point. Help give people the gift of dignity today.