We’ve all heard of food banks, but long before people go hungry they stop buying hygiene products.
Parents having to scrape out the contents of their babies’ nappies, entire families sharing one toothbrush – this is the devastating and often unspoken reality for some people living in poverty in Eastbourne.
The Hygiene Bank has been launched in town to tackle these issues head on. It is being coordinated by local business Ansvar Insurance and officially launched this September.
They provide the vital products often taken for granted, like nappies, deodorant, soap, toothbrushes and sanitary items, in bright yellow bins stationed in businesses, community centres, and organisations around town.
Kelly Barter, lead coordinator of the project, said, “People stop using shampoo and deodorant long before they get hungry. People will scrimp on hygiene products to get the food they need. It’s incredibly sad. It’s life-changing stuff.”
The project highlighted some of the most upsetting stories involving children being sent to school with unwashed clothes, with more schools providing washing machines because of this.
“Schools are very aware,” said Kelly, “This can really affect a child’s mental health. It’s struck a chord with us.”
Samantha Sanderson, of Ansvar, said, “It isn’t just about being clean, it’s about being given self-esteem; children in hygiene poverty are more likely to be bullied.
“We can give someone a razor, shampoo and detergent to wash their clothes so they can go to an interview with confidence. We hope we are helping people to get back on their feet.”
But even before it officially launched, the team at Ansvar said the donations were piling in.
Since the first week of August they have collected 112.5kg of items, about the weight of a giant panda, with one individual donating 11 packs of nappies.
Samantha said, “Eastbourne is incredibly generous and full of really good people! Everyone fundamentally is really generous.”
Key items they need include nappies, deodorants, and washing powder. The yellow bins will be at locations around town for a few weeks at a time, so people are encouraged to check the social media pages for the latest updates.
These are @thbeastbourne on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
There is also a Pier to Pier walk planned for September 29 to raise awareness and funds for the cause. Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/the-hygiene-bank
The Hygiene Bank is a charity which seeks to address hygiene poverty and period poverty, which it says is a “hidden crisis” in the UK.
Visit www.thehygienebank.com to find out more.