The founder of London’s first free showers for homeless people is set to create a solar-powered facility to serve as a community space.
The ShowerBox initiative, set up by radio presenter Sarah Lamptey, provides safe shower facilities for the homeless. She recently received a large donation of solar-powered showers from tech company Navitron and is looking for a space or organisation which shares the ShowerBox values to collaborate with her on “providing eco-showers and company to those who need them, just as public baths used to in this country”.
Lamptey, who was a regular volunteer for homelessness charities Simon Community, Shelter and Crisis before founding ShowerBox, is fighting the effects on disease and mental wellbeing that poor hygiene can have among the homeless population.
She told The Big Issue last year: “Those of us who have roofs over our heads all know how good it feels to be clean. And that is such a restorative force. Having a shower, even washing just a couple of days of grime off you, can impact you mentally and change how you feel about yourself. And it’s been shown that you make better choices when you feel good about yourself.”
Lamptey also said projects like hers could cut costs for the NHS while improving the UK’s homelessness crisis.
The first decked-out ShowerBox was stationed at a Tottenham Court Road shelter over the festive period, following a 2,000 signature-strong petition and fundraising campaign in support of the project. One guest said it was his first shower in months, said Lamptey, and another commented that it had “made Christmas” for him.
The showers will move to a Street’s Kitchen shelter in Hornsey in the coming weeks, to operate there for the first part of the year.
Lamptey said showers are central to both mental and physical health, adding: “The idea here is to help people to create their own strong foundation in life and to make each day less of a struggle. A shower is paramount.”