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Sidelined by hygiene poverty

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Average read time: 4 minutes

New research reveals 3 in 10 children from low-income families have skipped sporting activities due to being unable to afford the personal care products needed to get clean again afterwards.

Boy sitting on a bench watching sport
  • Almost half of low-income households are going without basic personal care products, such as shampoo, shower gel, and deodorant, due to being unable to afford them
  • Nearly three quarters of people living in hygiene poverty are experiencing this for the first time this year
  • 1 in 3 children from low-income families are skipping sporting activities due to not being able to afford the personal care products they need to get clean again afterwards
  • When children from low-income families do take part in sport, many are being shamed or ostracised, with more than 1 in 3 children having been bullied for how they smell
  • Unilever is on a mission to help UK families struggling with hygiene poverty by partnering with Tesco and charity In Kind Direct to donate one personal care product for every two bought in store

September 2022: New research reveals extent of hygiene poverty in the UK, with almost half of low-income households unable to afford basic personal care products1 such as shampoo, shower gel and deodorant.

Hygiene poverty is a hidden output of the steep rise in the cost-of-living - with nearly three quarters of those going without basic personal care products experiencing this for the first time this year2.

However, unlike food and fuel poverty - which 90% of people have heard of, just 37% of people are aware of hygiene poverty3.

Living without access to the basic products we all need to stay clean is having a negative impact on children’s wellbeing, with 1 in 5 parents living in hygiene poverty saying they are worried about their children being bullied and 1 in 10 saying their child has missed school as a result4.

However, new research reveals the impact hygiene poverty is having on children’s physical activity levels, with 32% of children from low-income families admitting to having skipped sport due to not having all the personal care products they need to get clean again afterwards5.

When those children from low-income families do take part in sport, many are being shamed or ostracised, with more than 1 in 3 (34%)5 saying they had been bullied for smelling bad and a similar number (36%)5 having been teased for having greasy hair or dandruff.

Additionally, nearly one in three (30%)5 children from low-income families have sat further away from peers at school due to feeling unclean and the same number have made excuses not to meet up with friends5.

When children living in hygiene poverty do gain access to personal care products, this has a big impact on their physical and emotional wellbeing. Of the organisations in In Kind Direct’s network that support families with children, 71% say the products they receive help to improve children’s wellbeing and happiness and 50% say they help to improve physical health and activity6.

Unilever is on a mission to help UK families struggling with hygiene poverty and has partnered with Tesco and charity In Kind Direct to donate one personal care product for every two bought in store. Customers simply need to purchase two basic personal care products, including Dove deodorant, Radox body wash, TRESemmé 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner and Simple face wash, and Unilever will donate one on their behalf. Running until 1st November, Unilever expects to donate approximately 500,000 products to families in need and plans to run similar initiatives over the coming months.

To mark the initiative and highlight the number of children missing out on physical activity due to hygiene poverty, Unilever has released an image showing the 32% of children who are skipping sport for this reason, edited out of a traditional image of a kids’ football team and replaced with simple line drawings.

This research shows the huge impact hygiene poverty can have on families in the UK. When children are unwilling to take part in sporting activities, or are unhappy at school, this can have a long-lasting impact on their physical and mental wellbeing. Which is why we want to highlight the one in three children impacted and support Tesco and In Kind Direct with this in-store initiative. For every two products purchased, we’ll donate an additional product which will go to families who really need them.

Chris Barron, General Manager Personal Care UK&I, Unilever

With household budgets stretched, it’s more important than ever that Tesco works with our charity and supplier partners to help make a difference for our customers at a community level. It’s vital that we keep making the right calls on behalf of customers and communities. With more than eight in ten people reporting a rise in their cost of living, we are so pleased to be working with Unilever and In Kind Direct on this important project which will help so many young people and families.

Nicola Robinson, Health, Beauty and Wellness Director, Tesco

No child should feel unable to take part in PE, enjoy their favourite sport, or simply meet up with friends for a kickabout in the park due to worrying about getting clean again afterwards, but sadly for many children living in hygiene poverty this is the case. The personal care products donated by Unilever as a result of the partnership with Tesco will not only encourage more children into physical activity, but also help boost their self-esteem, confidence and overall wellbeing.

Paul Buchanan, Interim CEO of In Kind Direct

For more information, please contact: Emma Wheat / Paige Hartley at W Communications emma.wheat@wcommunications.co.uk / paige.hartley@wcommunications.co.uk

07856 513219 / 07776 827014

[1]

Findings commissioned by In Kind Direct. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,069 adults, 123 of which are in low income families, defined by children in the household and an annual household income of >£25,000. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 22nd August 2022 and carried out online. All figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[2]

Findings commissioned by In Kind Direct. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,069 adults, 245 of which have had to go without a hygiene product this year. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 22nd August 2022 and carried out online. All figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[3]

Findings commissioned by In Kind Direct. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,069 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 22nd August 2022 and carried out online. All figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[4]

Findings commissioned by In Kind Direct. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,069 adults, 114 of which have children in the household and have had to go without a hygiene product this year. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 22nd August 2022 and carried out online. All figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[5]

5Perspectus Global Survey of 2,043 UK adults, September 2022.

[6]

In Kind Direct network June 2022 survey, 540 responses, of which 241 support families with children.

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