Banbury mosque launch a 'hygiene bank'
The service is just one of a handful in the UK and will supply such things as deodorant, soap, toothpaste, shower gel and nappies, donated to the scheme by Banbury businesses.
The scheme is separate to the Community Fridge which is free to use every day for members of the community to take just the food items they need, only when they need it, set up to prevent usable food going to landfill.
Yasmin Kaduji, founder of the Community Fridge and active member of the mosque, said: "When people come to the food bank, automatically we know they need toiletries, so the hygiene bank will remove that stigma."
Already Banbury businesses are getting on board and donating hygiene products to the mosque, with the Royal Mail being the first dedicated sponsor.
Postwoman Louise Regan, said: "I had this idea and had a chat with Yasmin to see if it was a viable idea. If you are struggling with money, the thing that goes down to the bottom of the shopping list is toiletries, home cleaning products and things like that, so I thought we could concentrate on that.
"It's a solely Royal Mail employee initiative, so I am just asking everyone at work to bring something in over the space of a month. Just buying a little extra during the weekly shop and it builds up.
Louise added: "People are really happy to help."
The success of the Community Fridge has inspired similar projects regionally and Yasmin hopes the hygiene bank will be no exception.
She said: "What we've found is that with the Banbury Community Fridge, Bicester have opened, Witney have opened, Botley have opened all following the Banbury initiative after they found us on Facebook.
"So what I am hoping is the hygiene bank idea will spread to other towns."
That desire is also a fundamental principle of the Islamic faith as chair of the mosque, Abu Hassan Hannif explains: "It is one of the principles of our faith to help our fellow human beings. We at Banbury Madni Masjid have added to the existing food bank a hygiene bank to assist all those who are in need of it.
"We look to the example of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) for guidance in fulfilling our duties as Muslims, we are reminded of the need to help others who lack even the daily essentials we enjoy,but may take for granted, by directly assisting the most vulnerable and impoverished amongst us in a compassionate manner in our community and beyond.
Hassan added: "Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said, ‘None of you have faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.’"
In order to reach as many in need people as possible the hygiene bank is urging other Banbury businesses to get involved either through employee donation drives like the Royal Mail's or through sponsorship and corporate donations.
"If there are any big companies that want to participate in this then I am more than happy to liaise with them," said Yasmin.
To access the food and hygiene bank people need to go to the Citizen Advice (CA) office just off the Market Place to provide details of their needs and will be issued a voucher that can then be redeemed at the Saturday morning bank between 11am and 12pm.
Andrew Carter, advice servicing coordinator at CA, said: "People can walk in, we operate a drop in service. Then we do a quick assessment and if they need further help we will make an appointment.
"Whether they have an appointment or not we can give them a food bank voucher to help them out if they are short of money as their benefits have been stopped or are late we can give them a food and hygiene voucher. So they don't have to be in the system."