Most of us take the fact that we can have a hot shower each day, complete with our favourite shampoo and conditioner and body wash, for granted. Or that we’ll have a decent supply of tampons stocked up when our period arrives. Or even that we can apply deodorant on the morning of a job interview safe in the knowledge that the only thing we need to worry about is whether or not we nail the interview, rather than if we smell unappealing and might see our job prospects suffer because of it. But for a large number of the 13 million people living below the poverty line across the UK, that’s not the case.
When beauty PR Jo Jones and writer Sali Hughes read a report by In Kind Direct that found that 37 per cent of the nation have had to go without hygiene or grooming essentials due to lack of funds, they knew that they had to do something to help. They both knew teachers who brought sanitary products to school for pupils who couldn’t afford to buy them themselves and had seen via food banks and homeless shelters that many people were forced to skip hygiene products in order to afford food. Both women work in an industry where they are surrounded by a constant influx of beauty products, so the fact that essentials like toothpaste and soap had become unreachable luxuries for many made them determined to use their contacts and their influence for good. It’s for this reason that the duo have launched Beauty Banks, a non-profit created to support existing charities in providing hygiene and grooming products for those who need them most.
“Personal hygiene should be everyone’s right. Being able to access basic hygiene products not only makes you feel better but it makes you feel like part of society – it helps you not to stand out, it makes you more employable, it makes it easier for teenage girls to attend school and not feel insecure that they’re on their period and they can’t afford protection,” Hughes told us today. “Nobody would choose washing over eating if they could only afford one, but nobody should be forced to make that choice.”
Beauty Banks are calling on retailers, bloggers, PRs and anybody else keen to make a difference to help them with donations. From essentials like soap and shampoo to items such as lipstick or moisturiser which could have a big impact on somebody’s self-confidence, Beauty Banks aim to collect as many useful products as they can before working with a network of homeless shelters and charity food banks (operated by The Trussell Trust) to distribute them to the people that need them.
“Can you imagine being a teenager who doesn’t have access to body wash, shampoo and deodorant? For us it’s all about small differences. Like the girl who goes to school during her period rather than skipping it – it’s that,” Jones told us. “Or the homeless guy who can have a shave before going to a job interview. Small differences can have a big impact on self-esteem, self-confidence and our dignity.”
How to get involved:
Start collecting products
“Think shampoo, body wash, deodorant, soap, shaving products, tampons, sanitary towels, wipes, hand sanitiser – the kind of things you couldn’t imagine living without,” says Jones.
“Don’t forget hotel products, or the miniatures you get on a plane,” says Hughes. “You’ve paid for them already in the price of your room or flight, so sweep them all up and donate them. The life of a homeless person is very transient, you have to carry your things with you wherever you go, so these smaller, lighter products are actually very practical.”
Stick to the rules
Products need to be unopened, to comply with health and safety rules. Also nail polish, nail polish remover and perfume are restricted solvents, so please don’t send these either.
Don’t be tempted to donate money, just products
“We can’t accept money as we aren’t a registered charity, we’re a non-profit, but if you want to skip the post office then you can shop directly from our Amazon wish list and have it sent directly to us,” Hughes says.
Send off your products and make a difference
Once you’ve gathered a decent stash of products, put them in a box and write “Beauty Banks” on each side, addressing the package to the following address:
c/o Jo Jones
The Communications Store
2 Kensington Square