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Health

Toilet rolls, deodorant, washing-up liquid: essentials that change lives

They’re the products you barely even think about. But a new toothbrush or some shower gel can make a real difference to people locked in hygiene poverty.

Hygiene poverty is real for many of the over 14 million living in poverty in the UK. This National Hygiene Week (July 5-11), the Hygiene Bank is raising awareness of how damaging hygiene poverty can be.

These stories from people who’ve used the service vividly illustrate why their work is so vital.

‘Getting these packs from the school was a godsend’
Pat*, mum-of-three from Newcastle

“I would like to say a massive thank you for the hygiene packs we received from the school the other day. They have had a massive impact on our household. It has made the children look after themselves a lot better during this horrible lockdown.

“Before receiving these packs the kids would just sit around in their PJs all day everyday without thinking about their hygiene. Having these packs now though has enabled them to look after themselves better by giving them an incentive to get up, have a bath or shower with the products you provided, and brush and look after their teeth (they were doing this already but they all loved the fact they got a new toothbrush, it was great). Also, the older two were able to use the new deodorants to keep themselves fresh and clean.

“I think these packs would be a godsend to all parents, and it’s nice just to have that little something there knowing you haven’t got to worry about having to find a way to get to the shops to purchase these types of products. The bag with the toilet rolls, soap powder and washing-up liquid was a godsend. Parents at the moment are most probably washing clothes a lot more with children being home (I know I am) and also same for the toilet rolls, having the kids home all day every day means we are going through a lot more toilet roll than usual, so being given these was also a saviour. On behalf of myself and probably a lot of parents out there we would like to thank you so much.”

‘Keeping yourself clean shows that you care about yourself’
Aaron Green, Big Issue vendor, Doncaster

“Getting these products is amazing, it makes such a difference to me and allows me to do normal things like wash myself properly and keep myself clean.

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“I’ve been given shower gel, shampoo, roll-on deodorants; it’s so kind of people to give this stuff to us. It means I can make my money go so much further and spend it on my bills and food.

“I’ve always tried to keep clean but it’s not always easy. I’ve been homeless, I lived in a tent under the North Bridge in Doncaster, but I am living in a flat now, and selling The Big Issue from my pitch outside Boots at the Frenchgate Shopping Centre.

“For me, keeping yourself clean shows that you care about yourself and it means people can see that I want to help myself. I’m really grateful for the help from Changing Lives and The Hygiene Bank.”

‘I don’t know what our lives would be like without the help’
Kim*, asylum seeker, Newcastle

“I am a single mum to three kids, my kids have skin allergies and need to have a bath every night. We need special cream for their eczema, and my daughter needs special shampoo for a scalp problem. We get all these things from The Hygiene Bank. This is a great help for my family, I would not be able to afford this myself. These things are so expensive in the shops. I am so glad for what we have been given.

“I am an asylum seeker, we have been here four years now. The money we get from the Home Office is not enough to pay for everything we need. With three kids I need food, clothes, school uniforms, bus fares, everything. Their allergies mean I need to buy special food and sensitive washing powder for their clothes. Everything we need has to come from that money and it’s not enough.

“I don’t know what our lives would be like without the help. My kids’ skin would be worse, maybe we would have to reduce down our food to afford the skin products.

“I have only been able to buy the special food because I haven’t had to spend that money on other toiletries. We really appreciate that.”

*Names have been changed

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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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