What is hygiene poverty?
There are different classifications of homelessness. Hygiene poverty might not be a very well-known issue, yet it is often one of the first indications that someone has fallen on hard times.
Hygiene poverty is not being able to afford hygiene and personal grooming products due to a lack of funds. While many of us may not think twice about buying shampoo, toothpastes, and household cleaning items, when choosing between heating your homes or feeding your family on a low income, these are often one of the first sacrifices people in poverty make.
In 2017, In Kind Direct found that over half of 18 - 24-year-olds went without cleaning essentials or toiletries because they couldn’t afford them. It can affect children’s attendance in school, as their families struggle to wash dirty uniforms or afford bathing products for a bath or shower. A lack of sanitary products forces children and adult women alike to either improvise or stay home during their periods. This contributes to the UK's hidden homeless kids.
The Hygiene Bank recognises how shaming, humiliating and excluding hygiene poverty can be, leading to a lack of confidence and negatively affecting health and mental well-being. The charity collects products from people, businesses, brands and retailers before its volunteers sort and box the products according to the different requirements of its charity partners, who then distribute them to their clients.
During National Hygiene Week, the Hygiene Bank kicked-off a long term partnership with Nivea for a BUY ONE GIVE ONE FREE campaign, which donated a personal care product to the Hygiene Bank for every qualifying item purchased. The charity has also partnered with retailer Boots, with donation points located in many of their stores across the UK. In the space of twelve months, Boots donated over 620,000 products to those living in poverty.
Toiletries Amnesty is an organisation working to stop products going to waste by helping people to donate their spare, unused or unwanted toiletries (and who hasn’t been gifted a soap or shower gel that’s not up their street?) to those in need.
Initially created to collect toiletries for a homeless shelter in Cambridge, Toiletries Amnesty now supports over 290 organisations, from homeless shelters and hostels, refuges, food banks, prison services as many more.
It’s also easy to support charities fighting hygiene poverty through the Toucan app by making a one-off donation or regular monthly contributions.