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Bottom of the Class

Published: 2019-05-01 03:02

This month I’ve been working with our corporate PR agency to bring attention back to Essity’s School Hygiene Essentials Initiative.

Most people remember their school toilets for all of the wrong reasons. No toilet paper, or toilet paper that could sand walls, no soap, having to ask the teacher when you needed to go and then the time pressure to return before anyone suspected you’d gone for more than just a wee, and not forgetting the under-the-desk Riverdance you had to do if you weren’t allowed to go during lesson time. In my school, kids used to soak the paper towels under the tap (‘soggies’ as we called them) and throw the sloppy mess up so that it stuck to the ceiling and would drip down on the next person using the facilities. Mum, I wasn’t one of them I promise.

There’s a serious underlying issue here which is that children should always be allowed to go to the toilet when they need to, and they should be perfectly comfortable in doing so.

Last year Essity founded and launched the School Hygiene Essentials Initiative which is a collaboration of hygiene, health and education experts who are working together to try and improve hygiene standards in school toilets and improve hygiene education for children.

Initially we had focussed on primary schools with research telling us that 1 in 4 children rate their school toilets as poor or very poor, and 44% admitting to avoiding their school toilets if possible. Teachers told us they are having to spend an average of 30 minutes per week helping to clean children that aren’t fully toilet trained, equating to 11 million hours of lost education time per year.

This year, we’ve expanded the initiative to include secondary school children because our gut feeling was that if we learn poor hygiene behaviours in primary school we most likely carry those with us into our adolescent years. Sadly, our gut feeling was correct with our new research showing that over half a million secondary school children actively choose not to drink at school so that they won’t need to go to the toilet.

Throughout this year we are going to be looking more closely at some of the difficulties children and teachers face and the different impacts this has. Most importantly, we’re going to be working with experts in several different fields to come up with realistic, affordable and impactful solutions. Our partners in the School Hygiene Essentials Initiative include the National Association for Primary Education (NAPE), the School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA), childrens’ bladder and bowel charity ERIC, the Paediatric Continence Forum (PCF), Bladder and Bowel UK, and In Kind Direct who help distribute essential products to community organisations including schools.

School toilets shouldn’t be something children fear. Let’s be the last generation of adults that look back on our school toilets with shuddering reminiscence. Find out more at http://www.schoolhygieneessentials.co.uk

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Gareth

Communications Manager UK&ROI

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Hi, I’m Gareth and I’m the Communications Manager UK/ROI for Essity. I’ve worked in corporate communications for 15-years and very much enjoy what I do. I get to work on really varied projects with many different people and in many different locations worldwide.

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