In recent years there has been lots of discussion around the growing dependence on food banks in the UK (shout out to the Conservative Party and their appalling policies). As austerity increased and the number of people in the UK living on the breadline and in poverty increased, so did demand for food banks. It is morally reprehensible that in 2018 this is the situation we are left to live in, but that’s a matter for a far more complex (and angry) article.
As discussions around poverty became more and more common, conversation extended beyond simply just food. There has been lots of absolutely incredible feminist activism in recent years campaigning against period poverty and period inequality – with reports of children missing school due to their periods and families choosing between food and sanitary products. Many amazing organisations such as Bloody Good Period have organised collection drives to fight this social inequality. (You can read more about their important work here). We’ve also seen attempts at structural change due to campaigns to cut the so-called Tampon Tax, where sanitary products were considered a ‘luxury’ product by the government and taxed as such. This lead to many shops and Student Unions across the country paying the tax on these products themselves. Other feminist activists such as Amika George (@AmikaGeorge) have also tackled the issue head on.
However, between sanitary products and food there seems to be a glaring gap – those living in poverty and unable to afford the food they need, need other essentials too. As many before me have pointed out, if you’re struggling to buy bread and pay the gas bill, you’re going to struggle to buy shampoo too. And surely everyone has the right to be clean? As a recent report put it, hygiene poverty is a hidden crisis in Britain. And even beyond this, everyone should have the right to take care of themselves, and to feel confident, proud, and happy in their body – whether that’s from access to basic hygiene products or makeup (I for one know that I would feel lost without my black eyeliner). This is not a case of luxury items but simply a case of allowing others the dignity to take care of themselves.
This is where journalist Sali Hughes’ (@salihughes) new initiative steps in. Hughes saw this problem and was incentivised to find a solution, and so Beauty Banks were born. In her own words: “Clean hair, skin and teeth are a right, not a privilege. Personal hygiene – while not a matter of life and death – is crucial for our dignity, self-respect, personal pride and mental health”. This new charity project will be working closely with food-banks and is asking for donations of shampoo, deodorant, conditioner, toothpaste, sun-cream, razors, shower gel, sanitary products etc. But this initiative goes beyond these ‘essentials’ and also calls for donations of make-up, lotions – basically anything you might use in your daily life.
I can’t be the only person here who is given a bath kit every single Christmas and has drawers full of spare razors, moisturisers (who actually uses the moisturiser that comes with perfume?) and other bits and bobs. And we’ve all been partial to nicking the minis from hotel bathrooms. Well rather than leaving these sat in a drawer it’s time to dig them out and put them to good use. Or maybe next time you’re in Superdrug make the most of the BOGOF offer and grab an extra foundation to send over to the Beauty Banks. Anything unopened and spare you can donate- just post it to:
Beauty Banks, ℅ Jo Jones, The Communications Store,
2 Kensington Square, London, W8 5EP
Alternatively, you can shop from their wish list here. I can’t emphasize enough how important I think this project is, to find out more information and get more involved email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them on Instagram at @thebeautybanks.