On Tuesday 28th November, Off The Fence was proud to launch our Hygiene For All van project in Brighton & Hove, put in place to ensure the homeless community always have access to their most basic need – Hygiene.

At this stage, this includes our Hygiene Van- delivering vital cleaning, sanitary and other items needed to look after the health and hygiene of individuals without homes. This also includes a Laundry Van- a mobile facility which visits sites wherever homeless individuals may be taking refuge, and provides a clothes washing service. Both projects will sit alongside the work of Antifreeze, which aims to support individuals into accommodation and permanent housing, rehabilitation, employment and a better life off the streets.

One of the van’s which was unveiled yesterday was, our Hygiene Van, has been named ‘The Emma Haward Van’ after one of our brilliant and committed volunteers who sadly passed away recently.  The ribbon was cut by her wonderful family, who said a few words about Emma and the support she had for Off The Fence. The Laundry Van was unveiled and launched by Mo Marsh, Mayor of Brighton & Hove and the team from Electrolux, who kindly donated the washing and drying machines within the donated van.

The sun was shining (thankfully!) as many supporters, volunteers, dignitaries- including the High Sheriff and the Lord Lieutenant, Richard Jackson- Bishop of Lewes and a number of major donors joined us to for nibbles and Pizzas, kindly supplied by Stoneham Pub. It was a joy to be able to look at the interior of the vans, talk about the project and see how they’ll work once released onto the roads!

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.  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 of the 2017 Brighton and Hove Homeless Count, 67% of homeless reported one or more preventable health conditions, and 34% 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. 

We can’t wait to see these vans in action- and see lives changed, turned around and transformed for the better alongside our existing work with the homeless community.

"Good hygiene promotes health, fosters hope, and restores dignity”