Generous student donates over 3,000 essential toiletries to local community

A Keele student collecting essential toiletries to help vulnerable people across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent has received over 3,300 donations.

Victoria Black, a final year Children’s Nursing student, set up The Keele Beauty Bank in 2018 after being inspired by her placement on a paediatric ward during her course. Here, Victoria helped care for a family and saw first hand the positive impact that being able to maintain a basic level of hygiene can have.

According to In Kind Direct, a charity that distributes consumer goods to UK charities working in the UK and overseas, 37% of the nation are going without or cutting down on hygiene essentials due to a lack of funds.

Victoria set up donation points across the University campus and Clinical Education Centre, which she collected every month and donated to local charities including the Gingerbread centre, Arch (women’s refuge centre) and local Trussell Trust foodbanks. To ensure the scheme is sustainable, donors are encouraged to give unwanted gifts and items that would expire before individuals could use them, along with donations purchased for the purpose of the scheme.

Victoria has donated over 900 items in the past few weeks alone to help vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak.

Victoria said: “I didn't realise the impact this small idea could have. Every time I take the donations to one of the various centres, I am always amazed by the reaction I receive - their gratitude is overwhelming.

“In the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic, foodbanks were crying out for items to try and cope with their oversubscribed service. Following another collection, I took the items I had received down to the centre and the woman was moved to tears; not by the quantity, but by the inclusion of hard to get items such as hand soap and toilet rolls.

“I cannot take the credit for the success of this scheme. It is only as successful as the people who are willingly filling up the boxes.”

Simon Boxall, Chair of Trustees of the Newcastle Staff Foodbanks, said: “We'd like to thank Victoria for her donations. There is a big difference between just existing and feeling alive. When someone has access to hygiene and beauty products, that person feels valued. That person knows, in the words of the advert, “you’re worth it”. And a person who feels like that is capable of doing great things. A donation from you could be life changing.”