"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
At The Hygiene Bank, we believe each and every one of us should have a dignified life. It's not right that feeling clean should be a luxury or a privilege for anyone in our society, yet many of us are living in poverty and can't afford to be clean. That's why our network of banks exists - to give people access to the basics they need.
Our passion stems from a sense of in just that anyone should be locked out of living a decent , dignified life, so we work to inspire social change.
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 period products, shampoo, toothpaste or deodorant when we need them is something most of us take for granted.
We all make financial choices, but for those of us 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 of us 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 period protection.
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 of us who can't afford them, via Community Partners such as schools, local government authorities, charity and voluntary organisations. #GiveLocalHelpLocal
WHAT WE COLLECT - The Hygiene Bank collects new, unused and in-date hygiene and personal care essentials. If you need them and use them, then it is likely someone else needs and uses them too.