Whalley soap maker on a mission to save lives near and far amid pandemic

In a year when handwashing has protected lives around the world from coronavirus, a Ribble Valley artisan soap maker is joining up with international aid and development charity Christian Aid to urge people to put soap at the top of this year’s Christmas list.
Charlie BoltonCharlie Bolton
Charlie Bolton

Charlie Bolton (27), developed a passion for making hand-made soap when he was just a teenager at Bowland High School, in Grindleton, but could never have imagined his favourite product being such a vital tool in the fight against a global pandemic.

Charlie, who grew up in Whalley, has created 800 bars of aloe vera soap from his current base in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, which are being sent around the country to help encourage people to engage with the charity’s Christmas Appeal supporting communities across the world facing the threats of coronavirus and climate change.

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Since the outbreak began Christian Aid has provided soap around the world for almost 250,000 people in the fight against coronavirus. In Ethiopia, the pandemic, the climate crisis and locust swarms have pushed vulnerable families into extreme poverty in 2020. Christian Aid is training women in rural communities to use the drought-resistant aloe vera plant to make soap to protect their families and create a new source of income.

Soap made by Charlie to help Christian Aid's Christmas AppealSoap made by Charlie to help Christian Aid's Christmas Appeal
Soap made by Charlie to help Christian Aid's Christmas Appeal

The charity is urging people to buy a £15 Charity Gift of soap-making training for women when they buy presents for their own loved ones this year.

Charlie, whose products are now sold online and in 13 shops across the North West under the trading name of Mr Soap, said: “Soap has long been a passion of mine – but who would have thought it would play such a key role in all of our lives this year?

“The global pandemic has in some ways brought us all closer as we all face the same fears and it is amazing to think that I am creating aloe vera soap with raw ingredients in my own home to help keep people safe while over in rural Ethiopia women are doing just the same. Lockdown has given me the opportunity to focus on soap-making and it has been

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fantastic to team up with Christian Aid. I hope together we can encourage people to reach out to support people who struggle to access soap and water and to keep their families safe.”

Christian Aid’s engagement officer for Lancashire, Darren Staunton, said: “This year we as a nation have experienced vulnerability in a way we haven’t for many generations and have been given an insight into what it is like to not be able to fully protect our loved ones from outside forces. Thankfully, we can wash our hands and use soap like the amazing bars that Charlie creates, but three billion people - 40% of the world’s population - do not have access to soap and water in the home – making regular hand washing very difficult.

“It’s been fantastic to work together with Charlie to help show how together we can help save lives near and far this Christmas. It would be amazing if you could pop soap at the top of your Christmas list!”

A £15 Charity Gift will train a woman in soap-making and a £30 gift can help provide clean water. To support Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal visit caid.org.uk/hope