Coronavirus: Sali Hughes raises tens of thousands to support vulnerable people unable to stockpile

Sali Hughes, left, and Jo Jones are organising the fundraiser to provide personal care products to the vulnerable. (GoFundMe)

A Guardian beauty columnist and her colleague have set up a GoFundMe page for vulnerable people who cannot stockpile and protect themselves from the coronavirus.

In just one day, the page has received over £64,000 in donations, above its target of £50,000, leaving the organisers “overwhelmed” with the response.

The page was set up by Sali Hughes and Jo Jones, who founded nonprofit organisation Beauty Banks in 2017 to support people who live in poverty and cannot afford personal care and hygiene products.

As the highly infectious virus spreads in the UK and other parts of the globe, people living in poverty are among the most vulnerable to the worst outcomes of the virus, Hughes and Jones write on the fundraising page.

“This is because they are not able to afford basic hygiene essentials like hand wash, soap and hand sanitiser that will help protect them from infection,” they say.

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Beauty Banks is a nonprofit organisation in the UK that supports people living in poverty who cannot afford personal care and hygiene products. (Beauty Banks)

People in poverty might usually rely on food banks for their basic hygiene essentials, Hughes and Jones write, but due to public stockpiling, food banks’ supplies are dwindling fast.

In recent days, supermarkets have been running out of hygiene essentials like toilet paper and hand sanitiser, and goods like pasta and tinned foods have also been in short supply.

Read more: The psychology and economic fallout of 'panic buying' over the coronavirus

Despite the government and supermarkets urging shoppers not to buy more than they need amid concern over coronavirus-linked stockpiling, images and footage of empty shelves and people wheeling trolley-fulls of toilet paper are still emerging, and many people have complained that items have run out.

In a joint letter, UK retailers have reminded customers to be considerate in their shopping so others are not left without much-needed items.

"There is enough for everyone if we all work together," they add.

Empty shelves on the toilet roll aisle in an Asda in London last week. (PA via AP)

Beauty Banks says it will provide emergency hygiene parcels that will be bought through donations, which will buy items like soap, body wash, hand wash, hand sanitiser and laundry detergents.

Donations will be shared with Beauty Banks’ UK-registered charity partners, which include food banks, homeless shelters, domestic abuse refuges, youth centres, NHS trusts and refugee centres across the country.

Read more: Coronavirus could leave one in five off work, government warns

In an update posted yesterday, Jones and Hughes wrote: “We are completely overwhelmed. To know so many people have helped at such a difficult time - and when they have their own families and finances to worry about - is incredibly humbling and affirming.

“Rest assured, we are taking the responsibility of spending this sum very seriously and are already making a plan to ensure the fund is spent fairly across England, Scotland and Wales (and we hope, Northern Ireland if we can deliver there), and through partners who can make the biggest difference.

“We are on it and are committed to spending your money wisely.”