Some Kiwi families are in such poverty they're sharing a towel, or even a toothbrush.

And it's not a surprise to KidsCan founder and chief executive Julie Chapman, more just a sad reality of life for some families in 2017.

As well as sharing the basic necessities in life that most people take for granted, these same families are often sharing bedding - which often doesn't include a bed, or even a mattress.

It's these sights which her team and those working with the Ministry for Vulnerable Children - Oranga Tamariki see all too often.


But, in conjunction with the Government organisation and its Hamilton Children's Team, KidsCan has launched a six-month pilot programme offering all children aged 0 to 18 years old basic health, hygiene, household and clothing items.

The families to benefit from the pilot live in the Waikato and are already working with Oranga Tamariki.

Chapman said the charity is putting $60,000 of its own money towards the programme, however furniture giant Harvey Norman has got on board and donated 100 beds, mattress protectors and pillows.

"We see a lot of cases of families sharing one towel or even one toothbrush so part of giving them dignity is that everyone gets their own towel, their own facecloth, toothbrush, it's just those little things that give people some dignity and set them on that path to being able to lift themselves out of that situation."

Currently the Hamilton Children's Team is working with around 200 children but that figure is expected to rise during the pilot.

Chapman said not only will the affected children receive the supplies, but if required, also their siblings and caregivers.

The female parent would also be provided feminine hygiene products, which was another area in dire need of support.

"Some of the things we hear a lot of is there's a really low amount of money for food, so personal hygiene and those types of things that we take for granted fall by the wayside, so part of this is towels and laundry detergent, all of those things that families really need to get their hygiene back up to a good level which most people wouldn't think people are going without."


Some of the children involved would already be in a KidsCan school receiving food support, but the new pilot was a "much deeper level of support for those families that basically have nothing".

In the near three weeks the programme has been running, there had been orders for 19 beds already.

The children could currently be sleeping on a mattress on the floor or on the couch but they don't have their own space or bed, or sheets and pillows to go with it.

"I'm so excited to be able to do this because some people just don't understand how much deprivation and material hardship there really is out there.

"When I think about children going without these kinds of things, that I certainly took for granted growing up, it upsets me because it's not okay for this to be happening."

Auckland University's faculty of education and social work will evaluate the pilot, the terms of reference of which are still being ironed out, but will include whether the right products were supplied, did they meet their needs and whether the families' hygiene level improved.

The goal is to roll the programme out nationally which is expected to cost around $1million, a cost hoped to be eased by some form of Government funding.

What's provided?

[Items will be assessed on case-by-case basis]

• Cotton pads
• Nit treatment and combs
• Tampons
• Soap
• Shampoo and conditioner
• Body lotion
• Tissues
• Plasters
• Towels and facecloths
• Hoodies
• Shoes and socks
• Laundry powder
• Beds
• Mattress protectors
• Pillows
• Sheets
• Duvet covers and inners
• Pillow cases
• Blankets