Warwick students tackle poverty from the bottom up

A Privy Council of students at Warwick University have kicked up a stink about the lack of proper toilets in poor countries – and raised thousands of pounds to fund more loos

The five students have managed to raise more than £3,000 this academic year to ‘twin’ 49 loos in the Student Union building, through charity campaign Toilet Twinning.


Warwick toilet twinners Jess Docherty, Emily Boyce and Thea Smith

Warwick toilet twinners Jess Docherty, Emily Boyce and Thea Smith

These 49 loos now boast certificates showing the latrines they are ‘twinned’ with overseas, in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Zambia.

Led by fourth-year students Emily Boyce and Jess Docherty, the group combined creativity and punning in a series of toilet-themed fundraisers throughout the year.

To mark World Toilet Day (November 19), they organised a Big Squat – which involved a relay team of students squatting for 12 hours solid in the main campus piazza. Other events included a cake bake, a second-hand clothes sale and an ‘Apoostic Night’ when musician friends laid on a fundraising gig at The Lounge, Leamington.

On one occasion, Jess and Emily even dressed up as toilets to collect people’s spare change. ‘We thought any publicity was worth it!’ said Jess, who has just sat her finals in French and Politics.

Emily, who was studying Economics, Politics and International Studies, had heard about Toilet Twinning at a youth festival and through her church, St Paul’s in Leamington, whose toilets are also twinned. Toilet Twinning was originally founded by Leamington-based charity Cord.

Jess and Emily with their Toilet Twinning certificates

Jess and Emily with their Toilet Twinning certificates

She and Jess quickly gained the support of the Student Union, the Student Council and the Christian Union – and a quirky reputation on campus. ‘We were very loud on social media to the point where people knew us as “those toilet people”,’ said Emily.

But the cause made it all worthwhile, said Jess. ‘We are both genuinely passionate about international development so that made us want to give time to it. And people were very generous with their time and money.’

Toilet Twinning CEO Lorraine Kingsley paid tribute to the students’ commitment and passion, which she hopes will inspire other students to follow suit. ‘What they’ve achieved is amazing: it’s the equivalent of providing every home in a small village with toilets. And in the remote communities where we work, those latrines will literally save lives and help people take a first big step out of poverty. We can’t thank the Warwick twinners enough!’

Notes to the editor:

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