How Pura is helping families living in hygiene poverty

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Imagine having to scrape out the contents of your baby’s nappy and then reuse it because you’re struggling to afford nappies. Or being forced to choose between buying a meal for your kids or a pack of baby wipes. Sadly, this is a reality for many families, with one in four children living in poverty in the UK.

Nine children in a class of 30 is the national statistic for children living in poverty. Of those children, two thirds of their parents are working families.

“So working isn’t necessarily a route out of poverty,” says Lizzy Hall founder of The Hygiene Bank.

Lizzy launched The Hygiene Bank two years ago, after watching the film I, Daniel Blake. The film shows a single mum of two asking for period products at a food bank, only to be told they don’t have any.  Later in the film, she’s caught shoplifting razors, deodorant and period pads.

“I’d never made a connection before between the inability to buy food and the inability to buy these other really essential products,” says Lizzy.

“So I went to my local foodbank to see if this was a reality and they corroborated that it was.”

Lizzy decided to organise a collection of hygiene products among friends and family for the food banks – and her request went viral.

Lizzy Hall Hygiene Bank

Lizzy Hall, founder of The Hygiene Bank 

 “I’d tapped into people wanting to help those experiencing hygiene poverty,” says Lizzy.  “Two years on, we have a large national charity supporting thousands of people who have been swept into poverty.”

 Hygiene Poverty

Hygiene poverty is not having the resources to keep clean.

“It’s the basic things that people take for granted,” says Lizzy. “Like not being able to wash your hair because you can’t afford shampoo. Or having to share a single toothbrush with the whole family because there aren’t enough funds for everyone to have their own.”

Before the Covid 19 pandemic, there were over 14 million people living in poverty in the UK – one fifth of our population – according to the Social Metrics Commission.

Lizzy says that when people are struggling financially, toiletry essentials are often the first thing people cut back on.

Woman poverty

“Long before people go to a food bank, they stop buying the essential hygiene products.

“Many mothers can’t afford nappies and wipes. So they have to scrape out the contents of that baby’s nappy and reapply it. This can lead to nappy rash and distress for the baby, while possibly affecting the mental wellbeing of the mother.

“Some people would then say, why don’t they use reusable nappies? But in order to do that you must have access to washing and drying facilities, and there’s often an inability to afford that.

“Babies are expensive, including nappies and wipes in the context of putting a meal on the table. These are the impossible decisions families in need have to make when balancing their budget – do I purchase food or hygiene essentials?”

How is Pura helping?

Pura is donating our eco-friendly nappies and wipes to The Hygiene Bank to help families living in hygiene poverty. So far, we’ve given just under £21,000 worth of wipes and nappies.

Pura wipes

“These are essential items that people are in desperate need of, and this is where Pura has been phenomenal,” says Lizzy. “We had an emergency request for more of these items in December from one of the large trusts we work with in Newcastle.

“Pura responded quickly by sending products to support 31 families ongoingly for three months. Without brands like Pura helping, we’d really struggle.”

“Pre-pandemic, the bulk of donations came from the public. Then at the start of lockdown, everything shut, including our drop off points. Our volunteers were in lockdown themselves. So we reached out to brands like Pura for help. When we have an appeal, as happened in Newcastle, we can go to a brand like Pura and ask for help.

“Aside from that, brands like Pura can raise awareness of what hygiene poverty is, letting people know that it’s something real and happening in communities across the UK.”

How can I help?

By supporting Pura, you are supporting The Hygiene Bank. If you’d like to help further by donating or volunteering please visit The Hygiene Bank's website. 



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