Toiletries Amnesty is getting home comforts to those without them.
Karen Harvey’s project provides an online database to allow people to donate unused smellies across the country.
For some of the least fortunate in the country, from homeless shelters to care homes, even something as simple as having soap, shampoo or other smellies is still a luxury.
Karen Harvey is trying to fix that with a project called Toiletries Amnesty, encouraging people to root around in packed cupboards or taking complimentary items from hotel stays and repurposing them to help those without access to any.
The idea for the plan came four years ago when Karen investigated her own bathroom cupboards and found them full of smellies that she was never going to use.
“I don’t know about anybody else but when I get home from a hard day at work, I enjoy a nice bath and it must be the same when you’re homeless too,” said Karen, who is also involved with a Camera Amnesty allowing homeless people access to photo-taking equipment in her day job at Shutter Hub.
“It’s only a small thing but it can make a big difference having nice toiletries to do that. But places can’t afford it, one hospital got in touch with me and said they couldn’t afford to buy toiletries and it made me sick, they should have funding for that.”
She chose to give them to good causes before asking pals to join in. But before long she was inundated with donations, more than she could handle alone.
So Karen has set up an online directory for the project, outlining all the refuges, foodbanks and homeless shelters across the UK and Ireland that are accepting donated toiletries.
“We got funding from a jewellery company and from there managed to build a website,” she said. “The goal now is to have more groups on there. I have people contacting me all the time and it is nice having that. But at some stage we need to be able to fund it properly but I’m more interested in making it work at the moment.”
The above article by Liam Geraghty first published on bigissue.com in Jul, 2018.