Finding an NHS dentist can itself be like pulling teeth, an issue which has only been exacerbated in the post-Covid world. But imagine if you can being homeless; what chance do people without a fixed address and a roof over their head have of getting dental care?
Enter social enterprise Change Please which has partnered with oral care brand Colgate and Channel 4 for a new campaign “Futures to Smile About”, brokered by Wavemaker. Its aim is to highlight the barriers those experiencing homelessness face when trying to access crucial health services and what can be done to help.
“Futures to Smile About” is being launched this week during Gogglebox with a Channel 4 branded introduction (hence no preview). It features a docu-style ad telling the story of Raphael, who experienced homelessness when he was 17. Produced by Armoury London and featuring TV presenter and actor Karim Zeroual, it will run until the July 15 across the Channel 4 portfolio, including All 4, as well as Colgate’s owned platforms.
Raphael encountered difficulties with his teeth and gums and couldn’t access the dental care he needed as he didn’t have a permanent address. He was initially helped by Change Please three years ago and is a vital part of the organisation. Raphael now works as a trainer and a mentor on the barista programme, which aims to empower the homeless community.
The campaign follows the successful ‘Driving For Change’ initiative launched in October 2021 in line with World Homeless Day 2021. Colgate and Change Please unveiled two London buses ‘The Colgate Bus for Change’ that were repurposed to provide vital support to rough sleepers and help tackle health problems before they worsen.
The Colgate Bus for Change runs three times a week in Hackney and Central London and gives homeless people access to valuable services such as GP consultations, a mobile dentist, showers, and haircuts. It has proven to be an invaluable service, ensuring those experiencing homelessness are able to get oral support when needed. Since January it has provided over 150 people – including Raphael – with free dental care and advice. The project aims to expand nationally before rolling out globally in the future.
In addition, the campaign will include ongoing support to the Change Please Foundation with social media activations across Colgate UK’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels.
Taylor Gordy, vice-president and general manager for Colgate Northern Europe, explained: “For those experiencing homelessness, a lack of a permanent address can be a real barrier to accessing vital dental care services. We’re happy to see the positive impact that the bus has already had, and we’re looking forward to expanding the presence to help even more people facing homelessness across the UK.”
Wavemaker UK partnerships and sponsorships director Abigail Russell added: “I had the privilege of spending two days filming with these inspiring people and understanding more about their background, their experiences with homelessness, and how they ended up in that position.
“Homelessness can be highly visible in our community, but also heavily stigmatised, so it’s important that we share these stories and even more importantly, demonstrate that an impossible situation can be reversed with the right support.”
So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?
Well, there aren’t many Donny Osmonds among us here, so naturally we can empathise with anyone suffering dental issues, but there can be nothing worse than not being able to access dentistry because you are homeless.
Colgate, Change Please and Wavemaker should be applauded for stepping into the breach. Quite what the politicians are doing is anyone’s guess…
Decision Marketing Adometer: A “beaming” 10 out of 10