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Hygiene poverty has spiralled in the pandemic. Here’s what you can do

The Hygiene Bank says poverty has spiralled due to the pandemic. For National Hygiene Week, The Big Issue is helping them make a difference.

For the UK’s second annual National Hygiene Week The Big Issue has teamed up with The Hygiene Bank to help raise awareness and donations for the charity’s 2021 campaign.

Set up in 2018 by Big Issue Changemaker Lizzy Hall after she was so moved by watching the depictions of a mum who couldn’t afford hygiene products in Ken Loach movie I, Daniel Blake, demand for help from The Hygiene Bank has accelerated rapidly because of the pandemic.

In 2020 it distributed £3.5m worth of products – seven times more than in 2019 – ranging from shampoo, soap and toothbrushes to laundry detergent and household cleaning items.

In three years since its inception more than 657,000kg of products have been donated, collected, sorted and distributed to more than 2,000 community partners, including schools, charities and local authorities, which ensures donations directly reach people who need them. The network of 150 local Hygiene Banks across the UK is run by more than 460 volunteers, who collect products from more than 700 drop-off locations.

Before the pandemic, poverty was already impacting the lives of 22 per cent of the UK population, with people facing a daily battle to make ends meet and choose between eating and keeping clean, because they could not afford to do both.

Jo Gilbert, who set up the The Hygiene Bank Doncaster in 2019, says the evidence of how poverty has spiralled as a result of the pandemic is clear. “When I started this, I was aware of nine foodbanks in Doncaster, now there are 22,” she told The Big Issue. “A lot of people were really struggling to make ends meet even before Covid hit, the pandemic has tipped them over the edge. It’s been devastating.”

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Between January and March this year Doncaster Hygiene Bank’s donations reached 5,700 adults and 4,900 children.

Read more here to find out more about National Hygiene Week and how to support The Hygiene Bank by giving donations of products or money, by volunteering or setting up a new local branch.

More info is available at thehygienebank.com

National Hygiene Week events

Happening virtually and in-person, events and activities are taking place across the UK from July 5-11.

The Hygiene Bank’s CEO, Edgar Penollar, says: “This National Hygiene Week we’re asking everyone to ‘Look Up’ and help us tackle hygiene poverty. We want the public and the government to see that hygiene poverty is unjust, and we want to see our social movement grow.” Free, ticketed, online discussion panels featuring speakers from social change leaders will be taking place on:

July 5, midday – National Hygiene Week kick off
Live event introducing NHW 2021 and launching the ‘Look Up’ campaign to encourage communities to work together to solve poverty in the UK.

July 6, midday – Why brands should support charities
A conversation about the impact of strategic collaboration between brands and non-profits. Participants include Unilever, Hey Girls and more.

July 7, midday – Lessons in advocacy and effecting meaningful change
Lessons learned from advocates and leaders on how to work together to effect meaningful change. Participants include JRF, the Centre for Social Justice and more.

July 8, midday – The power of communities
Volunteers discuss the importance of working in their communities to drive awareness about hygiene poverty.

Teachers and those working with children and young people can download The Hygiene Bank’s Educational Resource Packs, co-produced with Boots UK, aimed at building awareness and empathy and inspiring action in the younger generation.

Street Art pop-ups are planned in London and Leeds, with renowned street artists Elno from WOM Collective and Leeds Street Gallery creating thought- provoking murals at locations near Hygiene Bank drop-off points, to inspire the public to ‘Look Up’ and get involved.

And there is a silent online auction, with items including a seven-night chalet break in France, and signed sports and music memorabilia.

Unilever and Boots UK have partnered with The Hygiene Bank to help tackle hygiene poverty by providing product donations for those affected by poverty. Supporting this campaign is as simple as: You Buy. We Donate.

Shop in any Boots store or online, purchase any two products from Dove, TRESemme, Radox, Sure, Baby Dove, Lynx, Impulse, Dove Men+Care between June 30 and August 24 from these brands and Unilever will donate one to The Hygiene Bank.

“Taking action can be as simple as learning more about the issue, discussing it with family, friends, or work colleagues, or donating money or products,” points out Penollar. “Everyone can get involved and everyone can make a difference.”

For more information on National Hygiene Week events and fundraising challenges see thehygienebank.com

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Support us today

Over the last 30 years, your contributions have been vital in providing opportunities for those facing poverty by giving them a hand up, not a hand out. Support us to help thousands more. Buy a copy from your local vendor, donate or subscribe online today.

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