smol has partnered with The Hygiene Bank to launch an initiative that will see the challenger brand install mini laundrettes in schools across the UK so that families experiencing the effects of hygiene poverty can clean their children’s clothes free of charge.
With a target of brining Suds in Schools to 75 schools by the end of the 2023-2024 school year, smol has already installed 50 mini laundrettes alongside committing to providing them with ongoing free washing detergent to help keep their pupils in clean clothes, and are looking to install 25 more across the UK due to rising cases of hygiene poverty.
New research commissioned by smol, from parents and teachers of children in UK primary and secondary state schools has revealed a significant increase in children experiencing hygiene poverty in the past year, with a concerning impact on their wellbeing, ability to learn and school attendance. Teachers are personally intervening to provide clean clothes for pupils – as schools struggle to provide the resources needed to help.
The research found that almost three quarters of teachers (71%) have been aware of pupils who they knew or believed to be experiencing hygiene poverty in the past six months; not being able to afford many of the everyday hygiene and personal grooming products most of us take for granted. A huge 74% of parents who struggled to buy hygiene essentials in the past year had sent a child to school in unclean clothes at some point; almost 1 in 5 (18%) said this had happened ‘several times’ and 2% had even had to compromise washing socks and underwear.
The issue is creating difficulties with learning, and even 26% of teachers witnessing absenteeism as a result, which is disproportionately affecting secondary school pupils at a key point of their academic journey. 47% of secondary school teachers have seen a negative impact on children’s learning and 32% witnessed absenteeism from their secondary school pupils.
The Suds in Schools initiative is currently looking to raise £25,000 through Crowdfunder to establish the additional 25 laundrettes to reach the next milestone and roll the programme out to more schools, providing free access to laundry facilities and detergent to families in need. The Crowdfunder currently stands at over £15,000 and is hoping to raise an additional £12,000 to reach their goal.
Lucy Wishart, of smol said: “We believe that everyone should have access to clean clothes, in order to live their life to the fullest – and our research shows just how much this can impact young people at a crucial stage in their academic and social lives.
“smol launched the Suds in Schools laundrettes to help give children and their families access to clean clothes, with a supply of laundry detergent for as long as needed. With hygiene poverty increasing, it’s more important than ever for us to support more schools. Join us in making a difference by supporting the Suds in Schools programme through the Crowdfunder platform as every contribution, regardless of size, contributes to transforming the lives of children and families affected by hygiene poverty.”
With the new term, 71% of teachers expect the levels of hygiene poverty to have increased by this September and yet teachers state there is currently a concerning lack of support to address hygiene poverty and provide children with clean clothes; with almost half (49%) of teachers stating that their school doesn’t offer support to affected families or they don’t know know if they do. As the new term began in September 51% of teachers were not sure if their school would offer support, and 15% said they would not be offering support. Despite a significant issue of access to clean clothes, just 14% of teachers said their school offers laundry facilities.
Lizzy Hall, founder of The Hygiene Bank, said: “These important new findings from smol build on The Hygiene Bank’s benchmark 2022 research publication, clearly demonstrating that hygiene poverty is on the rise in the UK and showing what a profound effect it has on families’ lives and life chances. Each month, parents have to pay their bills and purchase food – so often hygiene products end up at the bottom of the list. Because laundry detergent can be a more expensive item, it cannot always be afforded. Initiatives like Suds in Schools are in huge demand, with families in desperate need of this type of support, and schools being a vital part of the solution. Together, we can help ensure these can get to more people who need them and we are so grateful to smol for this initiative and for partnering with us.”
For more information and to support the campaign, please visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/sudsinschools