Tackling hygiene poverty with Suds in Schools

Imagine not being able to afford the basics to keep yourself or your loved ones clean. That’s hygiene poverty, and it has a heartbreaking impact on children’s health, wellbeing and learning. Research by our client, smol, showed that 71% of school teachers surveyed agreed that in the last 6 months, they had been aware of a pupil who they knew or believed to be experiencing hygiene poverty. 66% of school teachers said that they had witnessed the bullying of a child because of poor access to hygiene. 

We worked with challenger household cleaning and personal care brand, smol, to support schools and families in tackling hygiene poverty by launching the Suds in Schools project.

smol partnered with The Hygiene Bank to create free mini-laundrettes in schools across the UK, providing a washing machine/dryer and all the laundry detergent needed to launder uniforms and sports kits for however long families and schools need it.

After an initial trial, teachers who used it said it helps to take pressure off parents, allowing them to focus on other aspects of their life. Having them in schools ensures they are easily accessible, and can reduce the stigma around hygiene poverty. 

To help roll Suds in Schools out to more schools who need these facilities, a crowdfunding campaign was launched to raise money to install 25 more laundrettes in 25 more UK schools.

We set out to raise awareness of the issue of hygiene poverty in schools with research, including the realities of how this impacts children’s wellbeing and learning, alongside case studies, expert spokespeople, film and stills, and a call to action to donate to the crowdfunder.

The media coverage sparked a national discussion with the likes of ITV’s This Morning and LBC hosting dedicated discussions about the research. In fact, there were over 343 pieces of coverage about the campaign, with print spreads in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and Daily Record. Further media coverage included the likes of the Independent, BBC News and Sky News.

The discussion extended across social media, were there were over 1,200 social engagements with the likes of This Morning, Sky News, and the Founder of the Good Law Project joining the conversation.

But the real winners were the schools. The publicity drove donations to the crowdfunder, raising over £34,000 from over 1,000 donors and exceeding the original target by a third. In fact, the drive was so successful that the Cost of Living Emergency Fund awarded it £5,000 of match funding.

The total amount raised is enough to set up a further 34 Suds in Schools laundrettes, helping to ensure that no child in the schools’ care has to experience the exclusion, bullying and impact on learning and school attendance that hygiene poverty has been shown to put them at risk of.