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Photography Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Here’s how you can help those in hygiene poverty stay safe from coronavirus

TextAlex Peters

For those of us who can’t afford soap, things are looking particularly scary right now

For most of us, at least until the events of last few weeks, hygiene essentials weren’t something to give a second thought to. Tampons, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, razors, shampoo, all tossed into the shopping cart without much consideration. For many people however, these basics are an unaffordable luxury. In the UK alone, for example, 14.3 million people live in poverty, unable to afford to keep themselves and their families fed and washed.

For the past two years, Beauty Banks has been supporting these people who live in hygiene poverty, galvanising communities and individuals to support those who need it, collecting donates and working with beauty brands to distribute unused toiletries to food banks, homeless shelters, NHS trusts, schools, family centres and churches all over the UK.

Now, when there has never been more of a focus on cleanliness and washing your hands, Beauty Banks knows it’s needed more than ever. “If you're already struggling to keep yourself and your family clean and if you're already having to choose between food and hygiene items, which a lot of people that we serve do, then you can't afford to take the extra precautions that you need to take to keep yourself and your family safe right now,” says Jo Jones, co-founder of Beauty Banks.

Partnering with GoFundMe, Jones and her co-founder Sali Hughes have organised a fundraising campaign to raise money for soap, bodywash, hand sanitisers, and laundry detergent for those who need it most. “Up until now, it's always been about being clean so that you have your dignity, your self respect,” says Jones. “But now it's a case of safety and protection.”

Over the past two days, the campaign has already raised an incredible £79,440 with donations coming in from 21 different countries. It’s a heartwarming, and to be honest, a much-needed display of solidarity and kindness during uncertain times. “Our dream was to get 10 grand so this is blowing our minds,” says Jones. “The messaging that we’re getting back from people is ‘thank you for giving us an opportunity to help and to do something’ because everyone feels so helpless.”

All the money donated will be spent on supplies and distributed around the nation. And if you are keen to help beyond a donation, Jones says, think about what you can do for others in your community. Leave something on someone’s doorstep, connect through creativity, and remember to not panic and start stockpiling supplies, because everything you have takes away from someone else. “If people rely on a food bank for their hygiene items, because of stockpiling, food banks are empty, the stocks are dwindling,” Jones says, explaining that this crisis is going to have considerable long term effects on those on the poverty line.

“When schools start closing, if you rely on that hot school meal for your child to eat, then that’s going to push people who are just hovering above that poverty line into poverty. And then when you get locked in, then you stop there and you can't get out.”

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