Teaming up with Superdrug and GoFundMe, the Beauty Banks team have raised nearly £26,000 for disadvantaged pupils – and they reckon even more children will be living in hygiene poverty this term as a result of the pandemic. Having heard from 38 per cent of teachers that they were already discreetly providing for kids out of their own pockets, Beauty Banks will support schools in need with deliveries of brand new toiletries and hand out education packs to other schools to help kids understand the issue better. The Big Issue caught up with co-founder Sali Hughes to learn more.
The Big Issue: Why are you focusing on hygiene poverty in schools?
Sali Hughes: Many children, not meaning to be horrible, might remark on someone’s odour or appearance and don’t realise the massive hindrance that poses to lots of their peers. As well as feeding into shame, hygiene poverty is a huge obstacle to playing and socialising and all the things kids should be doing. That’s why we’re specifically looking at children who are teased and bullied at school because of their lack of personal hygiene and access to the products.
How were schools tackling hygiene poverty before now?
What people don’t really realise – and what our independent research found – was that teachers already try to fight this. They already identify a need in their kids, discreetly take them to one side and give them toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, sanitary products and so on. Many of the teachers interviewed for our survey do it regularly. What we wanted to do is scale that up – we don’t see why teachers should be paying out of their own pockets if we can help them.
The campaign has already seen a big response. What’s next in your plan to tackle hygiene shaming?