Thousands of toothbrushes and toothpaste are being given to children and adults, thanks to Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
The trust, which provides community services in Kent, London and East Sussex, normally gives out around 800 of its brush for life kits a month, which include a toothbrush, a toothpaste and a leaflet about oral health.
However, at the beginning of the UK lockdown its supplies of toothpaste dried up – and at the same time demand for the packs went up hugely, with families losing incomes or having to get by, with less.
But thanks to the collaboration, Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) has now been able to hand out 5,045 packs since May, working closely with food banks and the Salvation Army on the distribution, so the packs get to those who need a little extra help, now.
KCHFT puts the packs together and buys the toothbrushes. The toothpaste is being donated by GSK.
Surjeet Jhheent, Senior Project Co-ordinator with KCHFT’s Dental Outreach Team in London, said: “Previously, I had worked with GSK on a clinical trial, so I approached my contact there and discovered it was happy to help. 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 for adults and some 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.
“As 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.”
Pictured is the outreach team’s head driver Graham Peek making a delivery to Hackney Food Bank.