Unilever, Boots and The Hygiene Bank tackle hygiene poverty

One in five people in the UK are held back by poverty, which means that many don’t have access to basic hygiene at home, such as soap, to keep clean and be well which is more important now than it has ever been.

Unilever and Boots have come together to help raise awareness around hygiene poverty in the UK and offer product donations for those of us affected by poverty. They will work with The Hygiene Bank to do this, who have been a charity partner of Boots since February 2020. One in five people in the UK are held back by poverty, which means that many don’t have access to basic hygiene at home, such as soap, to keep clean and be well which is more important now than it has ever been.

Supporting the campaign is as simple as this: You Buy. We Donate. Simply purchase any two products either in Boots stores or online at boots.com between 30th June – 24th August from these Unilever brands and we’ll donate one to the Hygiene Bank: Dove, TRESemme, Radox, Sure, Baby Dove, Lynx, Impulse, Dove Men+Care.

What is hygiene poverty?

Hygiene poverty is not being able to afford many of the everyday hygiene and personal grooming products most of us take for granted. The reality of low income is that it restricts people’s options which can mean being caught between heating a home, paying rent, eating or being clean. It encompasses everything: from washing hair, bodies, faces and clothes in the same washing up liquid used for the dishes; not being able to purchase deodorant because money is needed for the electric card; or being ‘judged’ because you can’t afford household cleaning products to keep it clean. Other examples include:

  • Sharing a toothbrush because one each just isn’t an option.
  • Being unable to change your baby’s nappy as often as is needed and scraping out the contents before reusing it.
  • Being housebound because you can’t afford period protection or have to improvise with rolled up loo roll and socks.
  • Having to choose between shaving foam and razors or the transport fare to a job interview.
  • Going to school with matted hair because there is only one hairbrush in the household and there’s no time for everyone to get a chance to use it.

Hygiene poverty can have a knock-on effect for the rest of a person’s life – from physical impact like health, employability and social interaction, to affecting mental well-being and confidence. Keeping clean isn’t a luxury, it’s a basic human right.

Long before people go to a food bank, they stop buying hygiene essentials. Here’s Elisha’s story to show the true impact this can have on someone’s life:

Elisha was 18, homeless and living in a hostel and was faced with a choice – does she eat or stay clean. What would you choose? Imagine how isolating it would feel, not having the confidence to talk to people because you couldn’t afford to wash properly or clean your clothes. Imagine missing college lectures because you couldn’t afford products like tampons. The Hygiene Bank provided Elisha with basic hygiene products, and it was life changing. She could wash, she could stay clean, she could focus on what was important – her studies. It helped build confidence, happiness and a sense of wellbeing which we all deserve. She worked hard, secured a place at university and now has a full-time job. Your donations had an immeasurable impact on Elisha’s life, and now she volunteers at The Hygiene Bank.

On the partnership, Chris Barron – VP Beauty & Personal Care for Unilever UK&I commented: “Hygiene poverty is a significant issue in the UK and being unable to keep yourself clean can have an enormous impact on mental wellbeing. We know we can’t solve this alone, which is why we’ve joined forces with Boots and The Hygiene Bank to help tackle the issue by donating one product for every two purchased from eight of our biggest personal care brands.”

Lucy Reynolds, Director of Communications, CSR and Sustainability at Boots UK said: “Boots has worked with The Hygiene Bank to help tackle hygiene poverty for over a year. We believe everyone has the right to be clean and access essential hygiene products like soap, toothpaste and deodorant. As part of our partnership, Boots collects products for The Hygiene Bank from customers at over 250 donation points across the UK and for every one kilogram collected, we donate four products. This new initiative with Unilever for National Hygiene Week means we can help more people within The Hygiene Bank’s national network this summer.”

Lizzy Hall, Founder of The Hygiene Bank said:“Hygiene poverty impacts every stage of life in the UK and yet many are unaware of this hidden crisis. That’s why we’ve partnered with Boots and Unilever to help tackle hygiene poverty by raising awareness and ensuring many of those in need have access to quality personal care products. With the demand for our services increasing every day, we know many of those swept into poverty will benefit greatly from this partnership.”

Together, Unilever, Boots and The Hygiene Bank want to help tackle hygiene poverty to support those of us in need with hygiene essentials, because no-one should have to choose between being hungry and being clean.

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