Beauty Banks

FionaIf you have a vague interest in beauty you can’t have escaped the deluge of articles about the launch of Beauty Banks from beauty PR Jo Jones and journalist Sali Hughes.

Sounds like a great idea, right?

Beauty Banks are asking people to donate new and unused toiletries and make-up to pass on to those less fortunate and who are living in poverty in the UK.

The idea is fantastic and not too dissimilar from something we at Beauty Club have been doing for the last couple of years. Collecting samples, hotel toiletries and lightly used products to give to a local food bank that caters solely for women and children. These women are homeless, at risk of being homeless and many are fleeing domestic abuse.

We understood that these people needed not only basic toiletries to keep themselves clean, but also make-up and products that would help them feel better about themselves.

As Hughes says, “It isn’t right, fair or good enough. Clean hair, skin and teeth are a right, not a privilege. Personal hygiene – while not a matter of life and death – is crucial for our dignity, self-respect, personal pride and mental health.”

However, I can’t help but feel it is all been set-up too quickly with no real plan. People are reacting quickly to an easy ask by buying items online from Boots’ and Amazon wishlists with literally hundreds of boxes are turning up daily with space now at a minimum.

But if you do some digging to find out how is everything actually getting to the people that need it, you will find that they are relying on The Trussell Trust to distribute. This apparently only means 5 single sites in Surrey, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, and West London. What’s that about it being grim up North?

Trussell run about 400 food banks which only covers around 60% of the total across the UK. They work on a voucher exchange basis for their banks and these are limited to between 3-6 per person per year. Good job people living in poverty have savings to cover the other 47 weeks of the year then, eh?

And what about all the other food banks who couldn’t justify or indeed afford the price tag that comes with using the Trussell Trust logo? Never mind the ones who simply didn’t want to sign up to the restrictive rules that says they have to limit their help.

If you choose to give your hard-earned cash or precious time to any charity; it is your right to expect that they are using that to its full potential. I believe there should have been a better thought out plan on the logistics here and at the very least more sites, especially independent ones and a clear route for others to register their interest to be considered.

Yes, I think that doing something is better than nothing but it all just feels like a really hands off, light touch way of making some people feel good about ‘doing their bit’ for charity by telling everyone on Instagram what they’ve done, whilst not actually reaching the people that really need it.

I urge you to reach out to our own local food bank – there will be one, I promise – and see how you can work with them. If you don’t know where to start, try your local church, mosque or supermarket. Set up collections at work, school, at your local jumble sale or just add an extra product on your weekly shop – whatever you like but visit them, find out about the people that you are helping, listen to their stories and work together to change lives.

If you’d like to find out about how you can support Manchester based food banks, please get in touch.