Campaigners raise money to tackle hygiene poverty in Twickenham

The Twickenham branch of a hygiene poverty charity is fundraising to purchase basic hygiene products.

The Hygiene Bank collects and re-distributes donated toiletries, hygiene, beauty and personal care items to charities, voluntary organisations and schools.

There are currently three volunteers who run the Twickenham branch of The Hygiene Bank which was founded in December 2019.

Project volunteer Julia Westgarth, 56, said: “The thing that brings it home to people is if they can just imagine how many hygiene products they use during the course of their day.

“There are some people living within our community, who have to share a toothbrush, who have to use washing up liquid to do all of their laundry and wash themselves and their dishes.

“There are people who are having to make daily decisions about do I eat or do I go and buy a packet of sanitary towels. 

“This is 2021 we shouldn’t have this going on. It is heartbreaking.

“We do actually live in one of the richest London boroughs, so people think that hygiene poverty doesn’t exist here but I can tell you 100% it does.

“When the pandemic hit, things went exponential and I was getting phone calls and email messages almost daily from new community partners asking for support.

“And because we rely on donations from the public, there was this horrible time when I just couldn’t help them.

“The first six months of the pandemic were a real whirlwind of social media appeals and trying to get on to all the various Facebook groups and liaising with local shops to see if they could have a drop off bin.”

RELYING ON GOODWILL: The Hygiene Bank is a volunteer-based charity

The Hygiene Bank Twickenham’s justgiving fundraiser aims to raise £700 and as well as accepting monetary donations, the charity accepts physical product donations through various drop-off points.

The drop-off points for The Hygiene Bank Twickenham can be found across Twickenham, Whitton, Richmond and Teddington.

Boots joined The Hygiene Bank as a brand partner 18 months ago and there are now drop off bins in hundreds of stores across the UK. 

Shops in Twickenham, Richmond and Teddington have dedicated yellow Hygiene Bank drop off bins with members of the public asked by the charity to consider picking up extra items during their shop to donate. 

Individuals are also able to buy products on the charity’s wishlists which will then be re-distributed to their community partners. 

Wish lists are set up on Amazon and through the organisation, For Common Good.

The For Common Good website allows people to add products to their virtual basket at a reduced rate, with these products being sent directly to their selected branch of The Hygiene Bank for redistribution. 

The Hygiene Bank Twickenham’s community partners include Richmond Furniture Scheme, Feltham and Hounslow food bank, St. Stephen’s Church and hostels for 16-to-24-year-olds.   

The Richmond Furniture Scheme provides second-hand and refurbished furniture for people receiving benefits. 

Some of their clients who may also be in need of hygiene support are provided with a bag of hygiene essentials. 

Westgarth explained that Hygiene Bank Twickenham delivers a carload of toiletries to the young people they support in hostels, with new and unused makeup going down a treat.

To find out more about The Hygiene Bank Twickenham including how to volunteer for the charity, visit the group’s Facebook or Instagram page.

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