3 September 2021 I By Dave Masters Digital Commercial Editor
Study of 500 teachers finds almost three quarters of schools have an issue with child hygiene poverty
New statistics reveal the scale of hygiene poverty in the UK and the effect this is having on children, in a Boots-commissioned survey of 500 schoolteachers, many of whom say the issue is getting worse.
Millions of kids will be heading back to school in September, and this can be a stressful, if exciting moment in their lives – and making sure they have access to hygiene products can only have a positive effect on their self-esteem, confidence and happiness.
Some 69 per cent of the teachers who took part in the research agreed that hygiene poverty is a reality in their school, and the same proportion said that the issue has got worse since the start of the Covid pandemic.
The teachers reported a range of issues from unwashed hair and PE kit to unbrushed teeth. Many of them said that they have had to send a child home or intervene in some other way to try to help. For example, they’ve lent (35 per cent) or bought (42 per cent) products for pupils, or referred families to food banks that can provide toiletries.
The impact of hygiene poverty on children can be considerable. A lack of access to the basics makes keeping clean a challenge. This may lead to stigma, ostracisation and bullying in and out of school, all of which can have serious long-term effects on mental health.
That’s why Boots and The Hygiene Bank have been working together on a campaign to start a wider conversation about those who are living in hygiene poverty and how we can all help.
Being clean shouldn’t be a privilege – but when the choice comes down to paying the rent, heating the house or putting food on the table, it’s easy to see how there’s no money left for deodorant, period products or toothpaste.
Lizzy Hall, who founded The Hygiene Bank in 2018, says its work has never been more vital: “We have seen demand for our services increase. Yet we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of what’s needed, given that 14.5 million people were already living in poverty pre-pandemic.
“Feeling clean is something many of us take for granted if you’ve never had to worry about whether you can afford deodorant or body wash.” ”
*Boots One Poll study 2021.