Hove-based charity Off The Fence unveiled its two hygiene and laundry vans for the homeless this week.
The vans are set to ensure that rough sleepers always have access to their most basic need – hygiene.
The hygiene van will supply essentials such as sleeping bags, hot drinks, heavy duty clothing, hats, scarves, socks, gloves, underwear, toothpaste and brushes, soap, shaving cream and razors, antiperspirant, sun tan cream and feminine hygiene products.
The second van is a mobile laundry van, which offers homeless people the chance to wash their clothes. Each client is given a mesh bag to place their belongings inside, limited to two pairs of pants, three t-shirts, jumpers and socks, filling the bag halfway to allow proper movement for washing and drying inside the machines. Spare clothes will also be carried in the van.
The vans will be available to rough sleepers from 1pm until 4pm and will operate at different locations around the city. The charity said locations may vary depending on the season, but this will be clearly communicated to clients.
The mobile units came about after the 2017 survey of rough sleepers and third sector agencies that all agreed after housing, hygiene was the largest problem facing the homeless population.
A spokesman for the charity said: “Most of us are fortunate enough to experience regular clean clothes. However, not everyone is as fortunate, and for those living without a fixed address or on the street, maintaining even basic standards of personal hygiene can be next to impossible.
“As compared with people who have homes, homeless people are more likely to have dermatological problems, functional limitation, seizures, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, foot pain, and decayed teeth. Many of these ailments are preventable with access to proper hygiene.
“In a recent survey, 67 per cent of homeless reported one or more preventable health conditions, and 34 per cent reported that their health condition made it difficult for them to keep a job or handle activities of daily living.
“The risk of death is increased eightfold in people who experience these conditions. To care more optimally for homeless people, we must pay attention to illnesses caused by lack of access to proper hygiene.”
To find out more, visit: www.offthefence.org.uk