A charity that collects essential hygiene products for people in need says its stocks are at a worryingly low level.
The Falkirk Hygiene Bank works with several local charities, including food banks and homeless shelters, to provide products from toothpaste to shampoo and deodorant to vulnerable people.
“We collect donations and distribute them out and obviously with everything that’s going on just now there is a high demand for it, with more and more families falling into that vulnerable group,” explained project coordinator and volunteer Kirsty McDougall.
“I used to have a nice healthy supply of things like hand wash and sanitisers but as you can imagine it’s been wiped out.”
The charity was set up locally just last year and quickly established several collection points around the Falkirk area.
However, most of these are in health and beauty salons, and all are currently closed.
The Falkirk group – one of only three in Scotland – is part of a nationwide network throughout the UK, set up in response to a report that showed 500,000 people across the country were having to turn to food banks – long before the coronavirus crisis.
Ms McDougall said: “If you’re in dire straits, the first thing you stop buying is not going to be food – it’s going to be things like toothpaste, body wash and deodorant – and that’s the gap we hope to plug.
“We want everyone to have access to these basic things that we take for granted.”
The problems hygiene poverty can cause are many; the charity says it causes shame and humiliation and can have a massive impact on physical and mental well-being, especially for schoolchildren who can be bullied because of it.
“It’s important to make sure people have access to these basics. They are important for dignity,” said Ms McDougall.
At the moment, the only way for people to donate is to buy online from a wish list.
It can be found here and all donations will be used in the local area.
Ms McDougall said: “In the longer term, Boots is going to be setting up a donation point for us, which is really fantastic, but if there are any small businesses who might want to put a collection point in their shop that would be brilliant.”
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By Local Democracy Reporter Kirsty Paterson