27 July 2017 –

Families across the UK are reporting ‘hygiene poverty’ on a vast scale – unable to afford an array of essential personal care and sanitary products – according to a report released today by charity, In Kind Direct.

With little money to cover the cost of everyday essentials, some families are reporting being forced to choose between buying food or buying personal hygiene items, such as toothpaste, nappies, tampons, razors, deodorant and shampoo, according to charities surveyed by In Kind Direct as part of its 2017 Impact Survey.

This is reflected in the work of In Kind Direct, a charity founded by HRH The Prince of Wales. The charity distributed more than £20 million in value of donated products to small charities last year alone – a record year since operations began in 1997.

In Kind Direct Impact Report 2017 lifts the lid on the scale of hygiene poverty:

  • 79% of recipient charities say products helped to alleviate poverty
  • 70% say they provided essential support to people struggling to buy basic supplies
  • 82% reported an increase in demand to provide this service
  • 75% say the products helped to boost recipients’ self-esteem
  • 75% said products helped to alleviate poor personal hygiene
  • 70% said products from In Kind Direct helped to keep their charities going

Robin Boles, Chief Executive of In Kind Direct, says;

“We are seeing an increase in ‘hygiene poverty’ – people being forced to choose between eating and keeping clean. This is hitting families hard. The fact that last year was In Kind Direct’s busiest year ever distributing products to charities and the people they help, highlights the stark choices people are facing. Our survey shows the significant impact this has on self-esteem. With 75% of people who are given products telling us receiving these goods boosted their confidence and ability to move forward in life, having access to life’s essentials really does make a world of difference.”

In Kind Direct’s additional research shows that Brits spend an average of £44.30 a month on maintaining or improving their personal appearance, with 18 to 24 year olds spending most (£63) and men splashing out more than women.

This has a huge impact on confidenceBut In Kind Direct beneficiary charities say people who would otherwise be unable to afford grooming and hygiene products are benefitting:

Rucksana Begum, 32, receives In Kind Direct products from her local charity in Tyneside, Crest UK, says; “I’m a new mum, not working, so I struggle to pay household bills. Not having to worry about buying sanitary towels, shaving gel and products, which I wouldn’t be able to afford, is a big help. I feel better about myself and it helps my mental wellbeing. Nice products make me want to look after myself, so I really appreciate them. This means I can buy things I wouldn’t normally be able to afford, so I can economise and mix buying baby food jars with homemade food. The household bills are there every month and we stick to a budget, but there is little left. This help means we have a bit more to spend on our children.”

Shuley Alam, Chief Executive of Crest UK, one of In Kind Direct’s recipient charities, said; “No matter what social background our ladies are from, personal care and hygiene is important to them. The products we get from In Kind Direct mean we can give them good quality personal hygiene products they wouldn’t normally be able to afford. Their priority is providing for their children, so when they do get a product, they are really proud and take care of their appearance. We’ve seen more people coming to our centre and increased demand for help with hygiene products over the last year.”

Other findings from In Kind Direct’s research include:

A squeezed funding environment for charities means they are expected to do more with fewer resources – increasingly having to step-in to help people struggling to afford basic essentials.

Accessing products from In Kind Direct can make a crucial difference to the number of people charities can help. One of the key findings of In Kind Direct’s Impact Report 2017 is the incredible boost that everyday essential products give to recipients’ wellbeing and self-esteem.

After its busiest year, In Kind Direct is now calling on more manufacturers and retailers to build product giving into their everyday operations. This will benefit communities, their business and the environment – helping to tackle ‘hygiene poverty’ at the grassroots through a growing network of 2,550 UK-wide charities.

For more information, visit www.inkinddirect.org