For the UK’s second annual National Hygiene Week The Big Issue has teamed up with The Hygiene Bank to help raise awareness and donations for the charity’s 2021 campaign.
Set up in 2018 by Big Issue Changemaker Lizzy Hall after she was so moved by watching the depictions of a mum who couldn’t afford hygiene products in Ken Loach movie I, Daniel Blake, demand for help from The Hygiene Bank has accelerated rapidly because of the pandemic.
In 2020 it distributed £3.5m worth of products – seven times more than in 2019 – ranging from shampoo, soap and toothbrushes to laundry detergent and household cleaning items.
In three years since its inception more than 657,000kg of products have been donated, collected, sorted and distributed to more than 2,000 community partners, including schools, charities and local authorities, which ensures donations directly reach people who need them. The network of 150 local Hygiene Banks across the UK is run by more than 460 volunteers, who collect products from more than 700 drop-off locations.
Before the pandemic, poverty was already impacting the lives of 22 per cent of the UK population, with people facing a daily battle to make ends meet and choose between eating and keeping clean, because they could not afford to do both.
Jo Gilbert, who set up the The Hygiene Bank Doncaster in 2019, says the evidence of how poverty has spiralled as a result of the pandemic is clear. “When I started this, I was aware of nine foodbanks in Doncaster, now there are 22,” she told The Big Issue. “A lot of people were really struggling to make ends meet even before Covid hit, the pandemic has tipped them over the edge. It’s been devastating.”