Confidence crisis as ‘hygiene poverty’ hits UK households hard

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Hygiene poverty hits UK families hard

In Kind Direct releases its latest Impact Report


Families across the UK are reporting ‘hygiene poverty’ on a vast scale - unable to afford an array of essential personal care and sanitary products - according to a report released today by charity, In Kind Direct.

With little money to cover the cost of everyday essentials, some families are reporting being forced to choose between buying food or buying personal hygiene items, such as toothpaste, nappies, tampons, razors, deodorant and shampoo, according to charities surveyed by In Kind Direct as part of its 2017 Impact Survey.

This is reflected in the work of In Kind Direct, a charity founded by HRH The Prince of Wales. The charity distributed more than £20 million in value of donated products to small charities last year alone – a record year since operations began in 1997.

In Kind Direct Impact Report 2017 lifts the lid on the scale of hygiene poverty:

  • 79% of recipient charities say products helped to alleviate poverty
  • 70% say they provided essential support to people struggling to buy basic supplies
  • 82% reported an increase in demand to provide this service
  • 75% say the products helped to boost recipients’ self-esteem
  • 75% said products helped to alleviate poor personal hygiene
  • 70% said products from In Kind Direct helped to keep their charities going
We are seeing an increase in ‘hygiene poverty’ – people being forced to choose between eating and keeping clean. This is hitting families hard. The fact that last year was In Kind Direct’s busiest year ever distributing products to charities and the people they help, highlights the stark choices people are facing. Our survey shows the significant impact this has on self-esteem. With 75% of people who are given products telling us receiving these goods boosted their confidence and ability to move forward in life, having access to life’s essentials really does make a world of difference.
Robin BolesCEO of In Kind Direct

In Kind Direct’s additional research shows that Brits spend an average of £44.30 a month on maintaining or improving their personal appearance, with 18 to 24 year olds spending most (£63) and men splashing out more than women.

Those living in London use £113.60 of their monthly salary on grooming products.

However, the research found 37 per cent of the nation - and 56 per cent 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.

This has a huge impact on confidence. But In Kind Direct beneficiary charities say people who would otherwise be unable to afford grooming and hygiene products are benefitting:

Rucksana Begum, 32, receives In Kind Direct products from her local charity in Tyneside, Crest UK, says; "I’m a new mum, not working, so I struggle to pay household bills. Not having to worry about buying sanitary towels, shaving gel and products, which I wouldn’t be able to afford, is a big help. I feel better about myself and it helps my mental wellbeing. Nice products make me want to look after myself, so I really appreciate them. This means I can buy things I wouldn’t normally be able to afford, so I can economise and mix buying baby food jars with homemade food. The household bills are there every month and we stick to a budget, but there is little left. This help means we have a bit more to spend on our children.”

No matter what social background our ladies are from, personal care and hygiene is important to them. The products we get from In Kind Direct mean we can give them good quality personal hygiene products they wouldn’t normally be able to afford. Their priority is providing for their children, so when they do get a product, they are really proud and take care of their appearance. We’ve seen more people coming to our centre and increased demand for help with hygiene products over the last year
Shuley AlamChief Executive of Crest UK

Other findings from In Kind Direct’s research include:

Women suffer 173 crises of confidence a year because they feel people are judging them on their personal appearance.

A quarter of Britons surveyed say their self-esteem takes a hit at least once a day due to the fear that others are looking down on their appearance, hair, body shape or thinking they are unattractive.

As a nation, 70 per cent of us admit that lacking in confidence holds us back, with a third saying they would look for a new job (28 per cent) if more confident. Meanwhile, 22 per cent say they wish they had the confidence to go to the gym. The same number admit they daren't go to a restaurant on their own.

Over the course of a year, we typically suffer 166 crises of confidence about our personal appearance with 18 to 24 year olds feeling anguished a staggering 308 times.

Alarmingly, nearly all of us (87 per cent) confess that we think less of people if we don't like their personal appearance.

A whiff of body odour puts off 61 per cent, poor dental hygiene deters 44 per cent and the sight of dirty finger nails disgusts 47 per cent.

A squeezed funding environment for charities means they are expected to do more with fewer resources – increasingly having to step-in to help people struggling to afford basic essentials.

Accessing products from In Kind Direct can make a crucial difference to the number of people charities can help. One of the key findings of In Kind Direct’s Impact Report 2017 is the incredible boost that everyday essential products give to recipients’ wellbeing and self-esteem.

After its busiest year, In Kind Direct is now calling on more manufacturers and retailers to build product giving into their everyday operations. This will benefit communities, their business and the environment – helping to tackle ‘hygiene poverty’ at the grassroots through a growing network of 2,550 UK-wide charities.


Notes to Editor

  • In Kind Direct’s unique model enables manufactures and retailers to put their surplus stock to good use by donating it for distribution to charities.
  • In Kind Direct is one of The Prince’s Charities. In Kind Direct has distributed new consumer products donated by some of the UK’s best-known retailers and manufacturers to over 8,500 charities working in the UK and abroad.
  • In Kind Direct is a one-stop solution providing the infrastructure to accept large quantities of goods and then stores, sorts and delivers them directly to charities in its network.
  • In Kind Direct has made a powerful impact on communities through the distribution of over £175 million worth of surplus goods from 1,000 companies including some of the UK’s best known manufacturers and retailers: Amazon, Essity, Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, Asda, Wilko and Colgate-Palmolive.
  • The survey results included in this news release are based on an online poll commissioned by In Kind Direct which surveyed 1,000 UK residents randomly selected and weighted to be representative of the UK population for age, gender and religion. The research was conducted between 16th and 19th June 2017.
  • In Kind Direct’s Impact Report 2017 is being published on 27 July 2017.

In Kind Direct's latest Impact Report can be downloaded here.