Hygiene poverty is not being able to afford many of the everyday items most of us take for granted. It is having to make the horrible choice of between eating or staying clean because you can't afford both.
It is not being able to purchase deodorant because buying that roll-on would mean missing a meal.
It is not being able to replace a toothbrush when needed or sharing a toothbrush because one each just isn't an option.
It is being unable to change your baby's nappy as often as is needed and scraping out the contents before reapplying it.
It is washing hair, bodies, faces and clothes in the same cheap washing up liquid used for the dishes.
It is being housebound because you can't afford sanitary protection or have to improvise with rolled up loo roll and socks.
It is having to choose between shaving foam and razors or the transport fare to a job interview.
It is not being able to launder clothes and muddy sports kit when needed.
Over 14 million people in the UK live in poverty (that is one in five people). 4.5 million of these are children and this figure has increased for the third consecutive year. (source: Social Metrics Commission)
Two thirds of those defined as living in poverty work. These are the 'working poor'. Being in poverty 20 years ago meant you were signing on and were not very motivated to reclassify your position. In the 21st century being in poverty means you have a job but it only takes one shock to push a family into poverty (think MOT to pay, funeral, divorce). This “generalized insecurity” (Wuyts, 2006) is a feature of developing countries, and is now a characteristic of poverty in the UK.
We know that long before people go to a food bank they stop buying toiletries. (source: The Trussel Trust)
37% people living in the UK, and 56% of 18 to 24 year olds have had to go without hygiene or grooming essentials or cut down on them due to lack of funds. (source: In Kind Direct, 2017)
8 in 10 primary school teachers say that they’ve seen a rise in the numbers of children coming to school unwashed or not looking presentable in the last five years and have found themselves intervening at an increasing rate. Nearly half of all teachers said they had seen bullying because of hygiene issues. (source: In Kind Direct, 2017)
3 out of 10 teachers regularly buy their pupils toiletry essentials. (source: In Kind Direct, 2017)
Tooth decay remains the number one reason that children aged 5-9 are admitted to hospital. (Royal College of Surgeons, September 2018)
"For almost every one 1 in 2 children to be poor in 21st Century Britain is not just disgrace but a social calamity and economic disaster rolled into one". (Quote by Philip Alston, UN Rapporteur for Poverty and Human Rights, November 2018)