Pilot project aims to help those who struggle to afford everyday items

Alison Preece and Angie Dickinson with some of the items available

Alison Preece and Angie Dickinson with some of the items available - Credit: Archant

A pilot project to help provide essential items for people around Huntingdonshire struggling to make ends meet has been launched in the area.

Cambridgeshire county councillor Adela Costello, Huntingdonshire district councillor Angie Dickinson and Alison Preece, youth and community co-ordinator for Cambridgeshire County Council, set up the project to allow people across the district to gain access to toiletries and other small items.

‘Essentials by Sue’ was founded in 2016 by Cambridgeshire crime reduction officer Sue Loaker, after two 12-year-old girls were caught shoplifting toiletries in Ely.

Mrs Loaker recognised the issue could be addressed by providing a foodbank-like facility for items like sanitary products, shampoo, and other toiletries. The project was launched in Huntingdon in September, with the essentials being available at Huntingdon Youth Centre and the Medway Centre.

Toothbrushes, shower gel, deodorant, shampoo and sanitary towels are among the items that will be provided by volunteers for members of the community who may otherwise struggle to pay for essentials.

Mrs Loaker is helping with the planning on the pilot project and said: “I am delighted that it is moving to other districts within Cambridgeshire.”

It is hoped that if the pilot project is successful in Huntingdon it will be rolled out into other towns in the district.

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Councillor Costello said: “The idea of the project is that people don’t have to feel embarrassed about having to ask for everyday essentials. To some people, things like toothpaste and sanitary towels are something we don’t even think twice about buying but for some people it is a struggle to be able to afford them.

“It is really important that people understand that they won’t be quizzed when they come in and ask for these products. We aren’t here to judge, just to help.”

The project will be run as a discreet service, offering both male and female goods, and is being supported by Huntingdonshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.

Anyone who wants to use the service can drop in, and write down the items they would like and the team will endeavour to provide them.

The service is run by volunteers and is always looking for people to get involved.

If you would like to help out, contact Ms Preece on alison.preece@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.