Hygiene poverty has been identified as ‘a hidden crisis’ in Britain and one that is growing, according to a 2017 report by In Kind Direct. With little money to cover the cost of everyday essentials, some families are being forced to choose between buying food or buying personal hygiene items.

A survey by the charity Plan International UK found that a staggering one in ten girls or women aged 14 to 21 in Britain cannot afford sanitary towels or tampons. Girls are having to miss school simply because they have their period.

The UK’s leading child poverty coalition, End Child Poverty, reports that 36.7% of children in the Hastings & Rye ward (that’s 8,981 children) are living in poverty, as at May 2019.

Hygiene poverty is shaming, isolating and excluding. Clean hair, skin and teeth are not a privilege. Tampons, toothpaste and a toothbrush are not luxury items. Although personal hygiene is not a matter of life and death, The Hygiene Bank believes being clean and looking good makes us feel better, helps us fit into society, makes us more employable and children that ‘fit in’ perform better in school. 

Since the first appeal on 14th August 2018, The Hygiene Bank has given out over 26 tonnes of hygiene and other products to local foodbanks, women’s refuges, hostels, shelters, social services and other organisations working to support people in crisis.

Staff at one of the town’s insurance broking firms took time out on Tuesday to raise money for the charity. As part of their Fun Day the team from UK Charity Insurance (UKCI) rode from London to Brighton and back in a virtual cycling tour, clocking up 112 miles. A mini-golf competition, bingo, cake sale and contributions from insurer partners all helped the firm to raise £1500 for The Hygiene Bank. 

Alison Acland, a director of UKCI, said “I’m really proud of our team and what they’ve been able to achieve in just one day. Hygiene poverty is a symptom of the increasing number of families struggling to make ends meet in our community. Through this initiative we were simply trying to do something practical to help and stand alongside our struggling neighbours. I’m sure this pleasing amount will go a long way to making a difference locally.”

Joining UKCI for the day The Hygiene Bank founder, Lizzy Hall, thanked the team for their support adding: “The figures for those in poverty and who are using foodbanks are staggering. But we know that long before people even go to a foodbank, they stop buying even the basic toiletries. Behind each statistic is a child who doesn’t have clean clothes for school, for example, or a teen who is bullied because buying deodorant would have meant missing a meal, or an adult embarrassed to attend a job interview because their hair is greasy. The Hygiene Bank was created to change that. UKCI’s donation will improve the life chances of people locally who would otherwise miss out on opportunities, perhaps due to a lack of confidence in their appearance or hygiene.”

The money raised will be used to support agencies and schools in Hastings & St Leonards by providing the exact products required to meet the needs of those most in need.

For more information visit: www.thehygienebank.com

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