I am 27 year old and I volunteer for The Hygiene Bank because I know first hand what it means to live in hygiene poverty.
My ex was a gambler and regularly gambled all our money away, leaving us without a single penny. But I could not and would not ever admit it to anyone. When I had to choose between eating or being clean, I chose being clean. It was easier to pretend I wasn’t hungry or that I had just eaten or that I was dieting than admit I couldn’t afford both. I was too ashamed.
I thought that if I looked dirty, smelled or had greasy hair then people would know and ask questions and I couldnt’ bear the humiliation. I know now that I put my appearance before my health, but I didn’t care about the consequences back then. I didn’t care if I made myself weak and ill as long as no one found out.
I remember a particular time when I really needed shampoo. I was in a shop with my friend, I was taking ages and she kept picking up different bottles of shampoo and shouting over to me. I finally had to admit I couldn’t afford any of them and she just didn’t understand.
When I found out about The Hygiene Bank, I just knew I had to volunteer. I know first hand how important these everyday things are and how humiliating it is when you can’t afford them.