New Mobile Hygiene Vans For Homeless People

Off The Fence are delighted to launch two mobile vans in Brighton & Hove to ensure the homeless community always have access to their most basic need – Hygiene.

The Hygiene Van will access more clients than teams can on foot, enable emergency care on the streets and provide signposting to local services relevant to those sleeping rough on the streets. The 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 individuals an opportunity to look and feel better, enabling them to live healthier lives and prevent exclusion from the community. Laundry is limited to 1-2 pairs of pants, about 3 t-shirts, sweatshirts/jumpers and socks. Each client is given a mesh bag to place their belongings inside, and may fill only halfway to allow proper movement inside the bags for washing and drying inside the machines. Spare clothes will be carried in the van.

Unveiling and presentation of the Electrolux Professional homeless laundry van to the Off the Fence Project Antifreeze charity based in Portland Road Hove Some of the Off the Fence clients with the laundry van Photograph taken by Simon Dack

The vans will be available from 1pm until 4pm and will operate at different locations around the city. Locations may vary depending on the season, but this will be clearly communicated to the clients so it is only the clients who are aware of the schedule, along with other agencies in the city.                                          

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.

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 people 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, more attention must be paid to illnesses caused by lack of access to proper hygiene. 

Off The Fence is a Hove based charity who have worked with homeless people for the last 20 years.  These vans will complement the existing work of outreach group Antifreeze which offers support to homeless individuals through a day centre and evening outreach service.

Off The Fence are active members of the Brighton & Hove Council’s Homeless Strategy, recognising the importance of working in partnership with other relevant agencies to meet the needs of homeless individuals rather than working in isolation.

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