Moira based charity aims to end hygiene poverty across the city

When Covid hit the country in 2020, many people began to struggle financially but help was at hand locally thanks to the Hygiene Bank in Moira, which launched during the height of the pandemic.

Ceara from Home Start accepting donations from Catherine from the Moira Hygiene Bank

Partnering with Boots in Moira, Lisburn, and now Lurgan, the small team of volunteers began to collect essential supplies for personal hygiene, as well as household cleaning products and even nappies, which they could pass on to community groups to help those in need.

Coordinator Catherine explained: “There are Hygiene Banks all over the UK and Ireland. During Covid we decided that rather than products going to Belfast we would set up in Moira so that the products could be used locally in the area, as well as in Lisburn, Lurgan, and Dromore. Any money raised or products donated is ring-fenced for the local area.”

When it first launched, the Moira Hygiene Bank connected with the Foodbanks in Moira and Lisburn, and any products donated were passed along so that the Foodbanks could distribute it to those in need. However, as time went on, Catherine also reached out to community groups such as the Resurgam Trust and Atlas Women’s Centre, who could also distribute products to people who may not be eligible to use the Foodbanks.

Claire and Phil at Danske Bank in Dunmurry helping up with #ItsInTheBag campaign

“Our aim is to end hygiene poverty,” continued Catherine. “We are moving towards making products available for everyone. If you are not eligible for the Foodbank, you can go to your community project and get products from them. We want people to reach out before they are in crisis. If we can provide products to free up £30 for people to buy food then we can reach them before they need to use the foodbank.”

People can donate unopened, unused products at local Boots stores, which have dedicated collection bins. There are also independent collection points, for example in the Daily Apron in Lisburn, Peony Bridal in Hillsborough, Maghaberry Community Centre, Elite Beauty and Tan Moira, Moira Cosmetic Dental, and Mak’s Place Magheralin.

As well as hygiene products such as shower gel, shampoo, soap, and household cleaning products, the Hygiene Bank will also accept opened packets of nappies, which are passed on to places like the Atlas Women’s Centre for use in their creche.

In addition to support from Boots, which also donate four products for every kilo donated by the public, the Hygiene Bank has also received help from Danske Bank in Dunmurry, where staff decided to make up bags to donate in lieu of their usual Secret Santa. Thanks to the generous staff, the bank donated 111 bags of products at Christmas.

Beatrice from Soroptimist International Lurgan, Christine (Lenity NI) and President Maimie Wilson Soroptimist International Lurgan

Soroptomists International in Lurgan have also been offering their support. Thanks to their members, they provided 16 bags of donations, alongside a monetary donation that will help the project to buy requested products.

If you would prefer to donate money to the project rather than products, they have a Just Giving Page, and the money donated is put to good use in buying products for local people. “All money donated to us is ring fenced for our project in Moira,” explained Catherine. “We use a platform called InKind Direct when possible that gives us discount to get our money to stretch further. Last week I bought period products for 14p per packet. So for example £100 could be stretched to £250 of products.”

The Hygiene Bank have been chosen by Tesco in Lisburn to be one of their community grants projects. Every time a customer shops in the store, they will be given blue tokens and they can drop them into a collection point for one of their chosen charities. Catherine is encouraging people to consider using their coin to vote for the Hygiene Bank so that they can benefit from a community grant from the retail giant. “The least amount we receive will be £500 but the more people vote for us the more money we might receive,” explained Catherine. “A bigger grant means we can support more projects in the local area.”

Catherine is also keen to increase the number of volunteers working with the charity in Moira. Currently the small team is made up of just three volunteers, as well as Catherine herself.

“We are a very busy team,” said Catherine. “We would love to have more volunteers and I am keen to build up a bank of people so that everyone can volunteer even once or twice a year. It is very much about whatever time you can give, rather than us demanding your time.”

If you would like to find out more about the Moira Hygiene Bank, how to donate or to volunteer, visit https://www.facebook.com/TheHygieneBankMoira or email [email protected]

If you would like to make a monetary donation, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thbmoira.