Once again, Hygiene Hub is back and doing better than ever this year at the University of Galway, having launched their Christmas appeal. Donations have come pouring in from students for a cause, some of us may have experienced before: hygiene poverty.
What is hygiene poverty you may ask? It is not being able to afford some of the most basic hygiene and cleaning items such as deodorant or soap.
For many, our morning routine is one of, if not the, most important parts of the day. But what if you weren’t able to wash your hair, brush your teeth, put on deodorant.
This is a reality faced by thousands of families around the world and within Ireland.
As described by Independent news, ‘41% of those surveyed had gone without or cut back on the use of hygiene items as a result of their financial situation.’
However, it does not need to be this way and through Hygiene Hub, students and the community can really make a change.
How does the process work?
I had the chance to speak with Joanna Brophy, Assistant Manager and organiser of Hygiene Hub at University of Galway’s Students’ Union.
Joanna explained that people can drop off items in the Student’s Union office, upstairs in Áras na Mac Léinn between 10am – 5pm Friday 24 November.
While this time is preferred, students are not restricted to it. Volunteers with the Hygiene Hub will come on 24 November and collect the items.
They will be donated to a number of different charities around Galway, some listed are: “COPE Galway, Galway Simon Community, Galway Traveller Movement and St. Vincent DePaul. They will be given to people who need it.”
What are the most needed items?
As the holidays do approach, this is the Hygiene Hub’s Christmas appeal. While it would be amazing for individuals to donate gift sets, the Hygiene Hub understands that is not always possible.
According to Joanna, these were the most needed items to give: deodorant, shower gel, shampoo, nappies, toilet roll, surface cleaner, and more.
“If it is something you use yourself; chances are somebody else will certainly need it,” she said.
“Not having the correct hygiene supplies may make you have to take choices between do I eat dinner or do I have nappies for my child. It is very tough choices people have to make and some people take for granted.”
Effect on Students
While the issue may seem faraway for some, it is closer than thought. As of 2020, 10% of third level education students came from disadvantaged backgrounds as reported by the Journal.
However, the University of Galway has really made an effort to support students who may not always have access to such items.
In 2017, a program was started through the University of Galway Students’ Union to distribute free period products across campus. For students who are faced with financial issues and other challenges, this program is a much needed and welcome addition to the university.
The Students’ Union Vice President and Welfare Officer, Izzy Tiernan stated; “Students have enough financial worries as it is with the cost-of-living crisis and spiraling rents, and we firmly believe the Government needs to mitigate the cost of these essential healthcare products for all.”
This is why organizations like the Hygiene Hub are so important because even the smallest contribution can make the biggest difference to one individual, especially during holidays.