The Poverty Trap?

As time goes on it is becoming harder and harder to listen to a news bulletin, scroll through social media or read a newspaper without hearing more about the people in our society who are struggling the most. A report produced by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which campaigns for social change working to solve UK poverty, published on 7th June 2018, ‘Destitution in the UK 2018‘ suggests that in 2017, 1.5 million people in the UK (including 365,000 children) were classed as destitute, meaning they went without the bare essentials and lacked the opportunity to build a decent and secure life.

Sometimes knowing how much needs to be done can be overwhelming, but here are just a few organisations you may not have heard about who are trying to make a difference in their corners of the world. And the best thing? You can help them do that from the comfort of your own home.

Beauty Banks

Sali Hughes, a long-time Guardian and The Pool columnist, co-founded Beauty Banks in early 2018 in response to the increasing need for products other than food for people living below the poverty line, known as ‘hygiene poverty’. Food banks generally get a good response when they ask for food and lots of people are in the habit of chucking a tin of soup, a box of cereal or a bag of pasta at donation points in supermarkets. But how many of us have bought additional shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant instead of food? And yet some of these things are completely out of the reach of some people.

So Beauty Banks has teamed up with a family-run company Easho, which supplies high street retail brands in wholesale quantities at wholesale prices. Easho holds the Beauty Banks wishlist, You simply order from the list and it will despatch direct to Beauty Banks HQ to be split up and sent all over the country. Easho sends one bulk delivery of all wishlist orders each week, thereby reducing transportation costs and packaging. The products are sent to various organisations, including women’s refuges, food banks, charities supporting people in poverty, and the homeless.

This is also a great opportunity for you to have a clear out of your cupboards and get rid of unopened and unused toiletries. They accept anything that you don’t need (apart from perfume and nail polish as they are restricted solvents) including all those hotel room minis, samples from the front of magazines and those unwanted gifts gathering dust in the bathroom and so on. They will accept it all. Details of where to send donations are here.

Crack + Cider UK

Ethos magazine readers who have been with us from the start may be aware of Crack + Cider UK from our very first issue in February 2017. Co-founders Charley Cramer and Scarlett Montanaro wanted to do something to help the local homeless but found that people were reluctant to give money as they believed that the money would be spent on ‘crack and cider’.So they established both physical and online shops where customers can buy gear for homeless people, ranging from £7 for a hat/socks/gloves set upwards. Crack + Cider then ensures your purchase is distributed to those in need via local independent shelters and soup kitchens.

The Red Box Project

The Red Box Project is one of a number of organisations which has popped up over the past couple of years dealing with ‘period poverty’. A recent statistic shocked me to the core – according to Plan international UK, one in ten girls in the UK has been unable to afford menstrual products. Even more shockingly, 49% of girls have missed at least one day of school as a result. Scotland has become the first nation on earth to offer free sanitary products to women and girls from low-income households after a very successful pilot scheme in Aberdeen. Girlguiding UK has introduced an ‘End Period Poverty’ badge in association with Water Aid, with the main aim of getting everyone tackling the stigma of talking about periods, which in turn should get people thinking more actively about how to tackle the issues surrounding the provision of menstrual products to those who need them.

The Red Box Project is aiming to have a box in every school and college in the UK so that anyone who needs sanitary products can get them. So far, it has 400 boxes across the country but still needs donations (money or products) and volunteer coordinators to get more boxes in place. Most of the box projects have a Facebook page, or there is a list on the Red Box Project website.

Other organisations who are also doing what they can to help out with this massive issue include: Hey Girls (a company that sells chlorine- and bleach-free sanitary products but matches sales with donations), Freda (a company that sells monthly boxes of period products and donates a proportion of its profits to organisations tacking period poverty) and Bloody Good Period (supplies menstrual products to asylum seekers, refugees and those who can’t afford them).

Help Refugees

The Choose Love physical and online store runs along the same lines as ‘Crack + Cider’ but the donations are given to refugees via Help Refugees, which runs over 80 projects around the world to support people fleeing war and persecution. It provides food, clothing, shelter, funding and more, and the Choose Love shop holds all sorts of items that a refugee might need, starting from £3 for a hot meal, right up to rent and living costs for one month for a refugee family for £320. If you are lucky enough to be near London, you can buy tickets to Imad’s Syrian Kitchen, a supper club set up to support Hope Hospital, the only children’s hospital in the Aleppo region of Syria, which is currently serving a community of 250,000 people. As the website so eloquently states, ‘Eat a falafel. Save a life.’ Help Refugees are always looking for volunteers, donations (money and products) and fundraisers.

-Lucy M

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

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