Published: 08:43, 05 March 2021
| Updated: 09:06, 05 March 2021
A project which supports vulnerable people in crisis is in need of donations to help tackle child poverty.
The Hygiene Bank offers its help to a network of organisations, schools and services across Medway.
Emma and her team need help to target the issue of hygiene poverty in Medway
Emma Thomas started the project in November 2019 and is currently running it from her home in Cliffe Woods.
She said: "I work with the local community by collecting donations of new or unused toiletries and personal hygiene items. We are like a foodbank but for hygiene products.
"The products are then sorted and given out to a network of organisations, schools and services to support those who are vulnerable or struggling and find themselves in crisis."
Recently, Emma has launched a new initiative in conjunction with insurance firm Aviva.
The Aviva Community Fund backs small charities with forward-thinking ideas which could provide even more causes with vital support and resources.
Working with Emma, their mission is to end hygiene poverty based on the belief that hygiene is not a privilege and everyone deserves to feel clean.
According to government figures, there were 4.2 million UK children living in poverty in 2019.
That is estimated to be 30% of children in the country, or nine in every class of 30 pupils and that figure rises to nearly 45% for children with single parents.
A combination of coronavirus redundancies, income cuts and increased costs mean the UK's poorest families are getting poorer and the pandemic risks only worsening child poverty and inequality in the UK.
Emma said: "We are trying to raise much-needed funds to purchase hygiene essentials, fill gaps in public donations and enable us to extend our schools' partnership and support more local disadvantaged children and families in crisis.
"Targeting and alleviating the rising issue of child poverty is at the heart of what we do, and we are starting to make a difference but we need extra support to be able to do more.
"Working with Aviva is another fundraising avenue, their platform helps us raise our profile so local people know more about us and how they can help.
"Aviva also give their staff £25 vouchers that they can donate to a charity of their choice so that really helps too. Aviva's project has helped us get our message out there more."
Last year, Emma and her team distributed 8.7 tonnes of donated products to local people.
The hygiene bank is the only project of its type in Medway and covers all of the Towns.
Emma added: "We have plans for vast growth in 2021 which will enable us to cope with increased demand for our services and extend our reach but we need additional support.
"We are a totally self-funded project and need support in order to make the project with Aviva a success.
"Our charity ethos is give local, help local, so everything donated or raised goes to help local people in Medway."
Hygiene Poverty can mean having to put a dirty nappy back on your baby because you cannot afford a new one; washing your hair, body and clothes in the same washing up liquid used for the dishes; or staying indoors because you cannot afford period protection.
A donation of £5 will help purchase a selection of hygiene basics that for so many are now out of reach luxuries.
The project also accepts donations of new or unused toiletries and personal hygiene items, like a foodbank but for hygiene products.
So far £1,342 out of their £2,000 target has been raised. If you are able to donate you can find out how too, here.