I am Hannah and I work with the AidLeros team to help others create organised distribution packs to enable volunteers on the ground to be able to meet the needs of the refugees quickly and effectively by having access to these grab bags of essential items. This frees up the volunteers from sorting time in the warehouse so that they can be focused on assisting the refugees with what they will need readily available.
Since we started a local collection point in our local community to help the refugee crisis our team at AidLeros were conscious that we wanted to make sure we packaged and sorted our aid in a way that would be effective. Now that AidLeros is nearly 3,000 members strong we are receiving hundreds of messages and posts a week on how we have been compiling our distribution packs, so thought it was about time that I created a tutorial that can easily be shared amongst volunteers, friends and collection points to be able to help the volunteers on the ground from our own family homes and local communities. Many people want to help but cannot commit to a volunteer placement due to family or work commitments, these tutorials aim to encourage people who want to help to be able to help in a very effective way.
For this particular distribution pack you will need.....
- x1 ziplock bag
- x1 facecloth
- Approximately 80ml of shampoo
- x1 strong plastic comb
- x1 pocket tissues
- x1 soap
- x2 razors
- x1 toothbrush
- x1 toothpaste.
The aim is to gift donated items in a way where basic needs are met in each pack and easily and fairly distributed to a wide number of people receiving the same kinds of packs. In this adult hygiene pack you will be able to carry with you essential hygiene items that should last several weeks.
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Step 1: So Where Do We Begin?
First things first once you have your items strip back on as much packaging as possible - this all adds to weight and takes up space so when you have over x100 of these made you will realise the amount of cardboard waste from toothpaste and toothbrushes alone. You will be glad to have been able to recycle excess packaging before sending it somewhere where it may not be possible to recycle which will only mean more rubbish.
You can easily produce these packs for under £2.50 each if your a good bargain hunter or start up a donation call for toiletries and organise what you have been donated. If you don't have an equal amount of the items on your list you can purchase missing items affordably on eBay, Wilkinson's, Morrison's and budget stores like pound land and the 99p shops.
Step 2: Ziplock Bags Are Your Best Friend for Distribution Packs.
Not only do ziplock bags allow volunteers to see contents of distribution packs easily but it also allows those receiving aid to know what items are being offered when there may be language barriers. On a practical note this keeps items clean,dry and easily opened and resealed again and can be conveniently carried for travelling.
Pound shops, 99p shops and Wilkinson's sell these at affordable prices in boxes of x30. I have used small ziplock and large ziplock for my adult hygiene packs depending on the size of the toothpastes/soaps/shampoos that were donated to our collection point.
My Arabic labelling for the hygiene packs can be forwarded to you to print off your own labels if required.
Step 3: Longevity Is the Key.
I like to think that my distribution packs will last and will be useable for quite some time. This is why I included face cloths in each of my packs which can be easily stored in its ziplock bag after use. Even if soap has ran out a face cloth can be used if access to clean water becomes available to wipe your face and hands clean.
I did not have much joy on eBay, Aldi or the pound shops for these but found that the best place to purchase these was in Wilkinson's for 30p each.
Step 4: Don't Weigh Me Down.
When creating these packs I needed to be conscious that in this case they are going to refugees who are crossing through Europe with small possessions to enable them to travel lightly. Each pack has no more than 80ml of shampoo to carry. In some packs shampoos are in handy travel sample sachets (x8 in each pack) and others have hotel mini shampoos inside which are all enough to last their journey.
Also de-cantering larger toiletry bottles into smaller 50ml bottles for easy travel is recommended if you were donated some full size bottles. I did this with my own collection and was given a document from an Arabic speaker who translated my labelling for me. ( please message me for this document as I've been given permission to forward it to others who wish to label 50ml shampoo bottles too).
Step 5: Finding a Comb for All.
I needed to find a comb that was suited to both men and women's hair types. Be conscious of who your comb will be going to. If you want to purchase a brush going to an african country a wide tooth comb/afro comb would be best. For Syrian refugees we were recommended a comb for thick curly hair a regular hairbrush would tangle hair so was not practical so opted for a strong plastic comb.
We paid less than 1p per comb as we got a great bargain on eBay x100 combs for £9.99.
Step 6: Catch Your Tears and Wipe Your Nose.
One of the things that struck me was that those fleeing war having lost loved ones on their journey would be bereaved and or traumatised both young and old. A tissue cannot hold someone close to comfort them but it can let someone know that we care about their tears and we care that they may be feeling unwell without enough care. A tissue will help them to wipe their nose and face but to also offer a tissue to others that are upset or ill too.
These you can source pretty cheaply from most places. These came from the 99p shop for x10 and I saw similar priced in Wilkinson's and Aldi too.
Step 7: Keep Me Wrapped Up.
I was donated many different types of soaps some hotel sized some fairly big but as long they fit nicely in the ziplock bags any soaps were fine. Whenever possible I tried to purchase dettol soap as they are anti bacterial and I seemed to find those with Arabic labelling quite often in the pound shops. I like to keep the wrappers in my soaps when they are individually wrapped so that they don't get bashed about too much in storage.
Step 8: Widely Different Toothpaste!
It wasn't until I started doing distribution packs back in September 2015 that I realised how much toothpastes vary in price depending where you shop. The pound shops were not the cheapest in this instance, Aldi was not bad at 75p for a large tube of toothpaste. But I was really amazed that toothpaste cost just 25p in Morrison's and Wilkinson's this enabled me to fill more packs that were missing toothpaste tubes affordably.
Step 9: Pack Me to Travel.
Toothbrushes all shapes and sizes have made their way through my house, I received some very clever travel ones that fold into itself to keep the bristles from being exposed and easily packed away. Most toothbrushes fit nicely next to a tube of toothpaste in their ziplock bag as though they know they were made for each other! I love that someone receiving this will not have to rummage through donations or be disappointed that the last toothbrush went and they'd have to brush their teeth with their finger until a toothbrush becomes available.
Step 10: Why It's an Adult Pack.
Yes, razors would not be great to hand out to a child which is why we have labelled these as adult hygiene pack ( we do have another great idea to write up soon for children) both men and women may need to use a razor and there is nothing worse than having to share your razor with your spouse if only one of you managed to get hold of a hygiene pack so have included x2 so they should keep you going for a bit.
I sourced these from the pound shop but many have been donated from our collection point. Aldi and Morrison's also seem reasonably priced. I did buy a pack of x25 in the pound shop but at east x8 broke when packaging these distribution bags so I wouldn't recommend those.
Thank you so much for reading through my "WHAT'S IN MY BAG?" Tutorial for aid distribution solutions to equip volunteers on the ground with easily distributed aid packs.
Please get making,sharing and sending soon.