28 Jul 2016

Schools ask for help to provide hygiene kits

6:31 pm on 28 July 2016

Children's charity KidsCan is now providing hygiene packs for students in schools in poorer areas to ensure they have deodorant, soap and toothbrushes.

Yesterday, Labour MP Louisa Wall, the Salvation Army and the Countdown supermarket chain called for consumers to donate personal sanitary products for girls and young women who could not afford them.

KidsCan health manager Julia Haydon-Carr told Checkpoint with John Campbell her organisation provided sanitary products for girls and young women at 568 schools.

But she said there was also a need for personal hygiene products.

"So no access to deodorants, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel. Those really basic things that you really need to be able to start your day and get to work or get to school in a good space I guess."

Ms Haydon-Carr said initially she was surprised by the demand but when she did the figures she worked out it would cost $20 to $25 a term to supply a child with basic hygiene products. A family could spend hundreds of dollars a year.

She said it was important children had proper hygiene products and there were flow-on effects.

"One of the examples that public health nurses often give to us is in New Zealand so many children are hospitalised for skin conditions that are totally avoidable."

Prevention was critical she said.

Julia Haydon-Carr

KidsCan's Julia Haydon-Carr: "It's not rocket science but it actually will reduce hospitalisations." Photo: RNZ / Laura Bootham

"Showing children how to cut their nails and how to clean their nails with a nail brush .... we want to give families a pair of nail clippers and a nail brush and I know it's not rocket science but it actually will reduce hospitalisations."

She said, when it came to the needs of girls and young women, KidsCan had been providing sanitary products for nearly a year.

In the past three months, it had delivered 4000 packets of tampons and other sanitary products.

Ms Haydon-Carr said a one-off grant from the Ministry of Social Development had paid for those products but that was now coming to an end so KidsCan was looking for more money to continue the project.

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