More than ever in my 18 years in the voluntary sector, we are now seeing all types of charities being asked to supply everyday essentials to people in need.
Much has been reported in recent months about providing food to families who are struggling to make ends meet, but unfortunately there is a much broader and deeper side to this story: a desperate need for everyday essentials, items that are getting left off the weekly shop long before people turn to food hand-outs.
In In Kind Direct's recent survey to 5,000 charities, over half of respondents told us they are providing supplies to people who simply cannot afford them, and 30% have seen an increase in such demand.
The economy in 2014 may be recovering, but struggling families increasingly are turning to charities for "the basic five" - toilet rolls, nappies, laundry products, household cleaning products and shampoo/shower gel. These products are core to maintaining the most basic standard of living, which many of us take for granted.
Recent figures released by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that 4.7million households are trying to get by on incomes below the level needed for an adequate standard of living.
This is further supported by our research which reveals that a third of charity respondents use the provision of everyday essentials to engage with people who are frequently most in need of help, but can often be difficult to reach in order to provide core services. This growing desperation for basic items is driving many people to depend upon already stretched local charities they would never before have contemplated using.
There is a widening gap between those who are beginning to experience the economy recovering and those who are being left behind. Manufacturers and retailers accordingly have such an important role to play in ensuring that their surplus stock is handled responsibly, releasing it for use in communities, enabling charities to undertake the vital work at hand.
I am so grateful to hundreds of leading manufacturers and retailers such as; Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, Colgate Palmolive, Kimberly-Clark and Amazon. All are sterling examples of the 925 companies which have enabled In Kind Direct to redistribute £130million worth of goods to 6,600 charities since HRH The Prince of Wales asked me to start the charity 18 years ago. Our work has made such a tremendous difference to UK charities, helping them thrive and expand their services and in turn improve the lives of the millions of people they help every year.
Demand is growing. We need to work with more companies to distribute their surplus goods to keep this vital lifeline going. You can create a positive impact by asking your company to make a conscientious decision regarding your essential stock. Help us with your #everydayessentials so we can deliver them to the doors of charities working with the people who need them most.
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