"Basic hygiene goes to the core of self-worth, self-respect, confidence and dignity. With hygiene poverty comes isolation, exclusion and shame and these impact our ability to participate in society and therefore what it means to be human." Lizzy Hall, Founder
Our belief is that everyone deserves to feel clean, our vision is to tackle hygiene poverty in the UK. Our Mission is to provide all those living in poverty in the UK with access to essential daily hygiene and personal care products. Our ethos, Give Local, Help Local. We are committed to creating a community built on diversity, tolerance, cooperation and mutual respect.
OUR STORY - The Hygiene Bank's story started with the anti austerity film, ‘I Daniel Blake’ by Ken Loach. A moving and harrowing film that exposes the cruel realities of those who fall through the cracks of our society. It portrays a place in which empathy has little place and no allowance is made for the chaos of everyday life. One particular scene stuck in the mind of our founder Lizzy Hall. The scene is of a single mother of two who is caught shoplifting and in her bag they find a pack of sanitary pads, razors and a bottle of deodorant. After watching the film Lizzy visited her local food bank who confirmed that toiletries were donated but only on an ad hoc basis. Friends who were teachers talked of girls improvising with toilet roll or scrunched up socks in their pants as sanitary protection. They talked about the impact of hygiene issues on social exclusion and how they and many of their colleagues resorted to buying pupils shampoo and deodorant or washing their uniform. Further reading around the subject identified ‘Hygiene Poverty’ and ‘Period Poverty’ as a hidden crisis in the UK. Buying the basics like sanitary protection, shampoo, toothpaste or deodorant when we need them is something most of us take for granted. For many on a low-income however, especially those who rely on food banks, these essential products have become out of reach luxuries. We all make financial choices, but for those living in poverty these choices can be extremely stark. When faced with eating or washing, the answer is obvious. Sadly, hygiene poverty comes with a social stigma that affects all areas of life, work, school and relationships. We know that a lack of access to hygiene products impacts confidence, self-esteem and prospects in those who are most vulnerable. People miss out on employment and promotion opportunities. Women find themselves housebound and girls skip school and miss out on their education because they can’t afford sanitary protection. Teens get bullied for body odour because buying deodorant would have meant missing a meal. The very idea of hygiene poverty is embarrassing and so galvanised to do something, Lizzy put out a plea for hygiene and personal care products to her friends on WhatsApp. This went viral and donations flooded in. The reaction was overwhelming and within a few weeks The Hygiene Bank was born.
HOW WE WORK - We encourage the local community to donate hygiene basics, beauty and personal care essentials. We collect, sort and distribute them back to the community to those that can't afford them, via partners such as schools, local government authorities, charity and voluntary organisations. #Give LocalHelpLocal WHAT WE COLLECT - The Hygiene Bank collects new, unused and in-date hygiene basics, beauty and personal care essentials. If you need them and use them, then it is likely someone else needs and uses them too.
ACHIEVEMENTS SO FAR - In the first 8 months of existence, The Hygiene Bank has set up over 90 projects across the UK. With the help of 150 plus volunteers we have distributed more than 24 tonnes of products to our 250 charity partners. These figures are growing daily and approximately 5 new projects are established each week.
HYGIENE POVERTY - THE FACTS: Over 14 million people in the UK live in poverty (that is one in five people). 4.5 million of these are children and this figure has increased for the third consecutive year. (source: Social Metrics Commission)
Two‐thirds of children growing up in poverty live in working families but but they just don’t earn enough to afford a decent standard of living and so are unable to work themselves out of the poverty trap. (source: Child Poverty Action Group)
Despite being the fifth wealthiest country in the world, child poverty is rising for the first time in 20 years, and is at its highest in inner London.
We know that long before people go to a food bank they stop buying toiletries. (source: The Trussel Trust)
37% people living in the UK, and 56% of 18 to 24 year olds have had to go without hygiene or grooming essentials or cut down on them due to lack of funds. (source: In Kind Direct, 2017)
27% of females have at some point been unable to afford sanitary wear and have had to miss school or work (source: Bloody Big Brunch, 2019). This is an increase from the original problem thought to be 1 in 10 females (Plan International UK). To address this, from 2020, the Government has pledged that sanitary products will be freely available in primary and secondary schools.
8 in 10 primary school teachers say that they’ve seen a rise in the numbers of children coming to school unwashed or not looking presentable in the last five years and have found themselves intervening at an increasing rate. Nearly half of all teachers said they had seen bullying because of hygiene issues. (source: In Kind Direct, 2017)
3 out of 10 teachers regularly buy their pupils toiletry essentials. (source: In Kind Direct, 2017)
"For almost every one 1 in 2 children to be poor in 21st Century Britain is not just disgrace but a social calamity and economic disaster rolled into one". (Quote by Philip Alston, UN Rapporteur for Poverty and Human Rights, November 2018)
End Child Poverty has published figures January 2018 on the level of child poverty in each constituency, local authority and ward in the UK. Scroll over their interactive map for harrowing details.