NZ Herald Article: 21 May 2015

Emergency toiletries given freely

21 May, 2015 2:12pm


Chris Bishell, left, started a charity that has provided more than 6000 toiletry kits to patients at Tauranga Hospital, with the help of funding from Paula Williamson, of Todd Gower Funeral Services.

A Mount Maunganui woman’s mission to bring comfort to those admitted to hospital in emergency situations has reached a new milestone.

For the past five years, Chris Bishell has provided personal care kits to those who have been admitted to Tauranga Hospital, under acute or emergency situations, without the chance to gather their toiletries.

Chris has noticed a continual growth in demand with two additional wards approaching her recently, keen for a supply of her kits, which contain basic toiletries, such as small shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush and paste, a comb and a razor for men. There are children’s kits too, inside pencil cases.

The kits are distributed in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, Coronary Care Unit, surgical, medical, paediatric and orthopaedic wards, as well as the Admissions Planning Unit.

The hospital’s transit lounge and Mental Health Services for Older Persons’ ward are now also receiving the kits.

“I deliver on a need-be basis,” Chris says. “The wards liaise with me when they need more supplies.”

Chris says it all started after a conversation with her ambulance officer husband, Gary, who told her how people rushed to hospital often couldn’t gather their belongings.

Chris says she “pretty much begged and borrowed” to get the service, called Patient Emergency Toiletries (PET), up and running.

“I would go on Trade Me and on-sell things, and I put the word out to people holidaying, that I needed those little shampoo and body wash bottles from hotels.

“But it grew too big, and it wasn’t a registered charity,” says Chris who funded PET herself for two years.

She needed a long-term funder, and Paula Williamson of Todd Gower Funeral Services was up for it.

“Paula came on board. I wouldn’t still be doing this if it weren’t for her. She was my saviour,” Chris says.

Paula describes Chris as an inspiration. “Supporting Chris’ charitable endeavours is an excellent way to give back to the community,” she says.

PET is now a registered charity. Chris has no plans to stop any time soon, despite it often being a thankless task.

“We don’t do it for recognition, we do it because it’s needed. If they weren’t needed, we’d stop doing it,” she says.

The fact demand continues to grow shows how important the kits are, she says.

“I think the toiletry kits help people too with their social recovery, and assist with their rehabilitation. It gives me the warm fuzzies to do this.

“I would like to thank family and friends who help to fill the packs, and the public for the donated goods.”