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Residents urged to support sanitary items ‘foodbank’ for families on low incomes

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Fenland residents and businesses are being urged to support a new project by donating unused toiletries to young people who need them.

Essentials by Sue has been launched to provide toiletries, sanitary items and other essentials to young people from lower income families who may struggle to afford them.

Items such as shampoo, toothpaste, shower gel and bras can now be donated at locations across the district, to be distributed to schools, colleges and local foodbanks.

The Fenland Community Safety Partnership launched the project at Cromwell Community College in Chatteris, which is one of the colleges involved.

Rosie Cooke, Fenland District Council’s community safety projects officer, who is coordinating the project, said: “Many of us take buying toiletries, sanitary items and underwear for granted. However, there are some that struggle to get regular access to these everyday basics.

“Our fear is that a lack of these items not only causes discomfort but can lead to embarrassment and bullying by their peers. This can perpetuate a cycle of low self-esteem. In the worst cases, police have seen young people resorting to crime in order to try and get hold of these ‘essentials’.”

Essentials by Sue was originally founded in 2016 by Cambridgeshire crime reduction officer Sue Loaker, after two 12-year-old girls were caught shoplifting toiletries in Ely.

Mrs Loaker recognised the issue could be addressed by providing a foodbank-like facility for toiletries, with projects so far being set up in Huntingdon, Ramsey and Ely.

Cllr Susan Wallwork, Fenland District Council’s portfolio holder for communities, said she was delighted to see the project launched in Fenland.

She said: “Essentials by Sue is a fantastic project. Our young people deserve the dignity of having the right products for their needs; I have witnessed first-hand the humiliation when they don’t and it’s simply not fair on them.

“They don’t have to feel embarrassed about asking for everyday day essentials, and they can do so without being quizzed or judged.”

Cromwell Community College executive principal Jane Horn also believes the project will go a long way to protecting young people’s dignity and comfort.

She said: “Cromwell is delighted to be involved in this project and to help the young people in Fenland. As a community we need to ensure that accessibility to basic toiletries is available to all and not seen as a luxury which only some can access.”

Karon Walton

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Members of the public can donate sealed, unused products, for both males and females, at the following donation points:

. March Police Station, Burrowmoor Road, March

. Fenland District Council Customer Service Centres – Fenland Hall, County Road, March, and The Boathouse, Wisbech (from July 10).

. Chatteris Community Hub, Furrowfields, Chatteris

. Whittlesey Community Hub, Market Street, Whittlesey

. Wisbech Police Station, Nene Parade, Wisbech

Any businesses or organisations wanting to get involved in Essentials by Sue, either by donating products or setting up a donation point, can contact Rosie Cooke via email at: rcooke@fenland.gov.uk or phone 07770 643378.

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