Thousands of toothbrushes and toothpaste products are being donated to children and adults in a bid to help struggling families.
Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) have handed out more than 5,000 packs to families in need after demand shot up as a result of lockdown.
Normally, around 800 kits – which include a toothbrush, toothpaste and an oral health leaflet – are delivered each month.
But after the UK entered lockdown, supplies dried up and demand rose as many families saw a drop in income.
With the help of food banks and the Salvation Army, the packs have been distributed to those hit the hardest during the pandemic.
While KCHFT provided the toothbrushes, the toothpaste was donated by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
‘Previously, I had worked with GSK on a clinical trial. I approached my contact there and discovered it was happy to help,’ said Surjeet Jhheent, senior project co-ordinator with KCHFT’s dental outreach team in London.
‘This was a great weight off my mind, as we were unable to get the toothpaste from our usual supplier.
‘So far, the company has given us 8,000 tubes of toothpaste. Some are for adults and some are for children and they are continuing to help, which is fantastic. We took delivery of the first round last week.
‘When families are struggling with money, obviously food is a necessity – but so is oral health. Unfortunately, when times are hard this often gets pushed down the list of priorities.
‘With these supplies we can help to make sure this is something people think about.
‘Most of our dental services were suspended at the beginning of the lockdown. Our outreach team has been busy putting the packs together, ready to send out, practising social distancing and with masks, gloves and hand sanitiser to hand.
‘We’re very grateful for this help from GSK.’
This follows the news that around 1.3 million children will be able to claim free school meal vouchers in the summer holidays.
The UK government originally said it would not provide the vouchers during this period – but changed its stance after a campaign by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.
He has also helped to raise £20million to help deliver meals to vulnerable households during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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