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Smiles and the sweet smell of success

CleanConscience’s CareKits welcomed by both Ukrainian refugees and good causes closer to home

When war in Ukraine broke out at the start of 2022 CleanConscience pledged to build 10,000 CareKits, for the benefit of people displaced by the conflict. Filled with hotel sized toiletries in the form of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion, plus amenities like shaving kits, dental kits, nail kits and toiletry bags, assembling the CareKits with items donated by ADA Cosmetics, Mibelle, Out of Eden and Noble Isle was the first part of the challenge, prior to distribution.

Amazingly, more than 20,000 CareKits were produced and what happened to them all is undoubtedly a story worth telling. CleanConscience founder and CEO Gwen Powel explains how the kits were put together: “We relied on our regular team of volunteers, who attend our operational units on Mondays and Tuesdays, and several teams of corporate volunteers from Sage, TradeBridge and ADA Cosmetics themselves, to pack the CareKits.”

Individuals and charities on the ground helped to ensure that 10,000 plus of the CareKits reached those in need, particularly people displaced within Ukraine and neighbouring countries like Poland, Romania, and Lithuania. Powell recalls: “Then, like many other UK charities trying to assist the Ukrainian cause, we found that transport to the mainland became a real obstacle, and we decided to distribute the rest of the CareKits to the 63 other charities we support in the UK, and to make them available to the Ukrainian families arriving in our immediate communities.” With so many Carekits produced they reached saturation point with local charities (CleanConscience are based in Maidenhead, Berkshire) and thoughts turned to who else might appreciate them.

Far left: Medical specialists, housekeeping and estate staff and those providing vital support from offices and reception areas were among those to have CareKits delivered to their workplaces Middle: Hospital staff, from experienced employees to those recently arrived in the UK, were delighted to receive the gifts Left: Some of the grateful NHS recipients of the CareKits

Powell says: “We decided that who better to receive a CareKit than our NHS staff, so we contacted our friends at Wexham Park Hospital, part of the Frimley Health Foundation Trust, and they couldn’t believe it!” Nurses, doctors, pharmacy staff, housekeeping and catering staff, admin and reception staff, estate and mortuary staff, and the hospital team of volunteers, received CareKits, and some were taken over to Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot for the new international nurses arriving, King Edward VII Hospital in Windsor for the Eye Clinic and The Parapet Breast Care, and finally St Marks Hospital in Maidenhead, for NHS colleagues there.

A special mention must go to Suzanne Veltri, senior sister at Wexham Park Hospital Emergency Assessment Centre, Mike Stone, voluntary services manager for Frimley Health Foundation Trust, and Jacqui Henderson, hospital engagement officer for Frimley Health Charity, who arranged for a super-efficient team of volunteers to assist with distribution of the CareKits.

Donations arrived and the task of making them into CareKits could begin

Powell says: “It is not every day that we can bring a smile to our hardworking NHS, but we’ve touched many hearts and we just hope that they know how much we appreciate them! It was also very special for our team of CleanConscience volunteers to see who benefits from their continued efforts, and they feel invigorated and motivated to continue offering their time and energy.” As for the recipients, as Suzanne Veltri reveals: ”Thank you and your team for your kind generosity! Some staff in pharmacy and other offices got very emotional, they couldn’t believe we remembered them.’

Mike Stone found it an honour to meet such a generous group of people and describes their arrival at Wexham Park as “spreading such joy.” And Jacqui Henderson adds: “As nurses can arrive in the UK with nothing, it would be so lovely for them to receive a CareKit. We are very grateful!”

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