How we gave out hygiene essentials – and more

How we gave out hygiene essentials – and more

Recently I’ve been learning about hygiene poverty – the term for being unable to afford the everyday hygiene products most of us take for granted. Did you know that 50% of people suffering from hygiene poverty say it makes them depressed or anxious, and 3 in 5 say it affects their mental health?

This is important to refugees in the UK, who with their tiny allowance often can’t afford what they need. In particular #periodpoverty can mean women and girls don’t feel able to go to school or college, or live their normal lives with dignity.

So I felt so pleased and proud when my volunteer group in south London was able to give out hygiene products at one of our hotels. And seeing the quiet smiles on the refugees’ faces, we understood that it meant a lot to them too.

We teamed up with a brilliant organisation called the Hygiene Bank, who gather products and supply them to people in need. They gave us boxes containing everything from soap to toothpaste to tampons, and we visited about 200 people in their rooms and offered boxes with various products for them to choose from.

Of course, everyone was glad to get everyday essentials, and it felt brilliant to know we were providing such sorely-needed stuff. But there was something else special. The Hygiene Bank had also included lovely scented bottles, and tubes of lotions and creams, and to be able to offer these, and see people’s reactions on being given them, made me feel warm and glowing at the same time. “For me?” one young woman looked up at me and asked, as I handed her a bottle of body lotion. I grinned and said “Yes sure!”

Being in the hotels for months on end can get a bit grinding for the people we support, so something like this can feel like a small indulgence – and if anyone deserves a little indulgence, it is them.

As volunteers this is what we try to do – we don’t just help people survive, we try to restore dignity too. In its own way, a little thing like a hand cream or a shower gel can help to do that. And to see the effect they can have lifted my heart too. Thank you, @thehygienebank for all your help.

About Care4Calais

Care4Calais was founded by a group of volunteers with the sole aim of supporting the people of the Calais refugee camps, providing fresh meals, warm clothing, heating and important legal and medical support.

We are not politicians – we are people like you who simply believe that every human has the right to be treated in a fair and dignified way.

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