‘Dignity boxes’ offered to people experiencing social deprivation

(Left to right): Social Bite's Barbara Haig, Edinburgh Napier's Isabel Dosser and Social Bite's Marzena Farana-Sherlock.
(Left to right): Social Bite's Barbara Haig, Edinburgh Napier's Isabel Dosser and Social Bite's Marzena Farana-Sherlock.
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A new campaign has been launched that will see free toiletries made available to those who need them most in the Lothians.

The Dignity Boxes initiative is a brainchild of Edinburgh Napier lecturer Isabel Dosser which will meet demand in specific areas for products such as shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap and shower gel.

The first box has been made available at homeless charity Social Bite’s Shandwick Place shop.

Attendees at the charity’s Social Suppers every second Tuesday – which supplies hot food and meals to the homeless – will be able to access products in the Dignity Box, without having to ask or thank anyone.

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Further boxes have been earmarked for a number of locations across the region in the coming weeks, including a student box at Edinburgh Napier, the Street Soccer project based in Portobello, The Willow project on Lauriston Place as well as Daisy drop-in, and the Dale in West Lothian.

For Isabel, a lecturer in palliative care within the university’s school of health and social care, the campaign is a chance to give something back to those less fortunate than herself.

She said: “After learning about a voluntary service (COPE) in Glasgow that provides advice and free sanitary products, I came up with the idea of the Dignity Box – a selection of free basic toiletries that will be placed in areas across Lothian experiencing deprivation.

“I’m a firm believer that little things make a big difference. The aim of the Dignity Box is to promote in a small way, self-worth and dignity by allowing those in need to take what they cannot afford or get access to without having to ask or thank anyone.

“We are very grateful to Social Bite for allowing us to install the first box in its Shandwick premises and I’m also grateful to the university for agreeing to be the first sponsor of what I hope will be a sustainable initiative that will expand in future. I would also like to thank friends, family, students and colleagues at Edinburgh Napier who have kindly donated items to allow me to get the campaign up and running.”

The campaign is asking for donations to contribute to boxes, or people to host a donation box in their work place to come forward.

Local businesses can also request their own donation box for use or discuss sponsoring a box in one area for a specific period.

Personal Design Studio – a hairdresser in Mid Calder – is among the first businesses to pledge support in taking its own donation box for the campaign.

Barbara Haig, senior social impact team at Social Bite, said: “We were delighted Isabel would consider Social Bite for this initiative. This contribution helps our rough sleeping and homeless group who might not otherwise be in a position to purchase these essential items. Isabel also dedicated her time proactively to volunteer which was a very kind gesture.

“The impact, however small or large, is something Social Bite is proud to highlight.”

Donations can be made at the iPoint receptions at any of Edinburgh Napier’s campuses – Merchiston, Craiglockhart and Sighthill – or organised through i.dosser@napier.ac.uk

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