Suds in Schools is a smol campaign that really captured the hearts of our awesome customers.
Helping children who are experiencing hygiene poverty gain access to clean school uniforms and sports kit, really felt like an area where smol things could definitely make a BIG difference. Turns out, we were right.
But for those of you who haven’t heard of smol’s Suds in Schools, let’s catch you up.
the story so far…
smol launched Suds in Schools back in 2021 on Crowdfunder, with a £10k goal. We wanted to install brand new mini laundrettes into schools around the UK which we would then also supply ongoing with free smol laundry capsules.
Our work with The Hygiene Bank had opened our eyes to the issues so many schoolchildren were facing through living in hygiene poverty. 3 hours after we went live on Crowdfunder, our incredible customers had smashed our £10k target with their generosity. And by December of that year, after just over a month of fundraising, we had a STAGGERING £55k to really kickstart our campaign.
We set to work… and those amazing donations have now been put to good with over 50 schools benefitting so far. But we’ve been shocked and upset at the level of need.
the scale of the issue.
Over 3 million people currently experience hygiene poverty in the UK and of course, that includes children.
Hygiene poverty is...
- The inability to take a shower with shampoo, conditioner and soap.
- It’s using an old toothbrush because you can’t afford a new one and not using any toothpaste.
- It’s having to choose between shaving your face or using deodorant.
- It’s washing your clothes less often because you can’t afford laundry detergent.
- It’s not being able to change your baby’s nappy for long periods or having to reuse disposable nappies because you can’t afford more than one per day.
- It’s being scared to leave your home during your period, or missing school because your homemade solutions leak and could embarrass you.
- It’s not being able to clean your home because you can’t afford cleaning products.
- All the everyday items that many of us don’t give a second thought about are products that those in poverty are having to forego.
the impact at school.
Hygiene poverty means families not being able to wash school uniforms or muddy sports kit when needed. It can see children being excluded in the playground and classroom and it can make them a target for bullying. In fact 72% of teachers we surveyed in 2023 say they have witnessed pupils affected by hygiene poverty experience low self-esteem.
8 in 10 primary school teachers also say they have witnessed a rise in the number of children attending school unwashed or wearing unclean uniform in the last 5 years and have found themselves intervening at an increasing rate (one third of teachers regularly buy their pupils toiletry essentials).
“We know access to clean clothing might feel like a small thing but for kids going without, it can be socially excluding, inhibit learning and impact mental health.” - Amy Harris, Brands & Schools Manager, The Hygiene Bank.
making a difference.
Our very first mini-launderette went into a primary school in Blackpool. And it was instantly put to work.
“There is nothing “small” about smol’s efforts to support families in our school. We have engaged with the Suds in Schools programme from the off and it is already having an impact on the lives of our families. - Sarah Smith, Exec Head Teacher, St Cuthbert’s Academy, Blackpool.
Many more machines quickly followed throughout the UK. Each site is set up so that it can both wash and dry laundry just as you would do in a laundrette, and then of course we make sure there is a steady and ongoing supply of free laundry capsules to keep those machines in use.
As one teacher commented to us recently (who wishes to remain anonymous):
“It makes me feel for them as they had to fend for themselves and had to go through so much more just to get to school in the morning compared to other people and then would be made fun of for little things.”
Hearing statements like that spurs us on to do more.
So keep your eyes peeled for some more announcements coming soon because the work goes on to not only remove the stigma attached to hygiene poverty, but also to help provide for those who are enduring it.
If you are looking to nominate a school for future Suds in Schools applications, read all about it on the blog here.
And if you have any questions specifically around our Suds in Schools scheme just drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to help us fight hygiene poverty in the meantime?
Don’t forget our donate a wash scheme that has seen so many of you adding 30p to your own plan (thank you!) so that each time your pack of smol processes you give TWO laundry washes directly to those in need. Projects like this have enabled us to send over HALF A MILLION WASHES to The Hygiene Bank and the difference it can make is so important.
Donate to Suds in Schools