If somebody can’t afford food, it’s very unlikely they will spend their money on toiletries.

That’s why journalist Sali Hughes and Jo Jones, beauty director at PR firm Communications Store, launched Beauty Banks: a nonprofit designed to get hygiene products to the people who need them most.

This includes anything from tampons to toothpaste, razors to shower gel — and they argue that in 2018 such items, far from being a “luxury”, are essential to empower people out of poverty.

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Beauty Banks aims to deliver surplus toiletries to homeless shelters, food banks, and a women’s refuge across four UK locations: Cardiff, Surrey, Milton Keynes, and Ladbroke Grove, London, near Grenfell Tower. All are supported by the Trussell Trust — the UK’s largest network of food banks that delivered over 1.1 million food packages last year.

Hughes and Jones both have a background in the beauty industry — and are leveraging their contacts and experience to transform the waste they see around them into something more productive.

Part of Hughes’ inspiration for the project came as she raised over £40,000 for homeless charity Centrepoint on a sponsored “Sleep Out” in November 2017 with others including writer Caitlin Moran. In January, government figures reported that rough sleeping had risen again for the seventh year running — the highest it’s been since records began.

Hughes has previously written about her personal experiences of being one of Britain’s “hidden homeless” in the Guardian, and the fundraiser prompted a conversation with friend Jo Jones about the need for non-food items.

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"Some people don't have enough money to survive, so what's going to go?” Hughes told the BBC. “The thing that you don't need to stay alive. But I don't think having clean teeth is a luxury. Having clean hair isn't being spoiled — in 2018, in Britain, it's a right."

"People really need these things and not being clean and being dirty is the difference between having a bad or good day, of feeling employable and feeling good about themselves," she added.

Hygiene poverty is real — 37% of the UK population, including 56% of 18-24 year olds, have gone without essentials due to lack of funds, according to nonprofit In Kind Direct and its 2017 Impact Survey.

In Kind Direct delivered over £20.2 million worth of donations to 2,855 charities in 2016, and reported that 75% of those who received the products felt they helped alleviate poor hygiene and boost recipient’s self-esteem. Moreover, 79% of charities who received the donations said the products helped beat back poverty.

“We are seeing an increase in ‘hygiene poverty’ — people being forced to choose between eating and keeping clean,” wrote Robin Boles, In Kind Direct’s CEO, in the impact report. “Our survey shows the significant impact this has on self-esteem. With 75% of people who are given products telling us receiving these goods boosted their confidence and ability to move forward in life, having access to life’s essentials really does make a world of difference.”

Beauty Banks don’t want your money — they want your unopened toiletries. Hotel freebies, unwanted Christmas gifts, whatever: you can send what you’ve got to the below address, provided by Hughes in a column penned for The Pool. Alternatively, send them direct from their Amazon wishlist.






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‘Beauty Banks’ Nonprofit Helps Women Fight Hygiene Poverty

By James Hitchings-Hales