A survey by Plan International UK found that one in ten young women aged between 14 and 21 in the UK cannot afford to buy sanitary products and one in seven struggled to afford them. There are concerns that girls miss days at school and miss out on taking part in many other activities. Sanitary products are the least donated items in foodbanks. This is an issue that has been raised by the Locality Planning Groups in Western Outcomes Group Area, with members concerned that Period Poverty has been increasing due to Covid-19 with increased number of families have been faced with food and fuel poverty too due to being furloughed/made redundant during lockdowns. Therefore the Western Area Outcomes Group committed £15,400 of their 2020/21 funding to helping those who are faced with period poverty.
Tom Cassidy Interim Chair of the Western Area Outcomes Group explained “Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products and/or having a poor knowledge of menstruation, often due to financial constraints. This can be caused by a wide range of reasons, but ultimately period poverty can negatively impact on a girl or woman’s ability to lead her life in the way that she wishes to do.
It is important to remember that period products are every bit as essential as other essential items that we take for granted such as hand soap, hand towels and toilet rolls. All of which we can freely access in any public building.
Women and girls can’t opt out of having periods, but we can opt in to highlighting the need for a more equitable system that provides better access for those in need and that’s why we thought it was very important to do something proactively to address the issue of period poverty in the Western area. Many families experience this issue as a type of hidden poverty and it is important to raise awareness of the prevalence of this issue and to reduce stigma in the hope that girls and women experiencing period poverty can reach out for help if it is needed”.
The funding was shared across the six LPGs in the Western area. This enabled a lead organisation in each to purchase products to distribute through the LPG members to anyone who needs them.
Two groups negotiated with local shops and four of the groups worked together to negotiate a reduced price from Savage and Whitten Wholesale.
Rioghnach Murphy Chair of Strabane Locality Planning Group said “The Period Poverty Campaign has been a very successful endeavour and Strabane Sure Start was delighted to support it on behalf of the Strabane LPG. Uptake in the Strabane area has been very high and many have benefitted. We believe that period poverty has no place in the 21st century and that society has a duty to ensure that there are no barriers to education, sport or socialising events because women and girls do not have access to basic sanitary products.”
Fermanagh LPG Chair Mark Rodgers highlighted “The Fermanagh CYPSP Locality Group working along with Group member organisations and Hub Partners have been able to circulate a range of sanitary products across Fermanagh and Tyrone to help address the issues related to period poverty for women and girls across our local area. This scheme has not only provided direct practical support, it has also helped to break down the stigma and taboo associated with periods and Period Poverty”.
Bogside & Brandywell Health Forum and Outer West Family Support Hub both welcomed the distribution of products within the Derry LPG area. Michaela O’Hagan, FACT Coordinator said “Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum would like to thank CYPSP for their kind donation that allowed us to acquire much needed sanitary products. These products were distributed to organisations in Derry who support adolescent and young women, they have reached community centres, youth groups and family HUBS in reinforcing the positive message of the Period of Poverty campaign”. Frances Outer West Hub Coordinator noted “The Outer West Family Support Hub is very grateful for the period products that we received. The products were distributed to schools and youth clubs in the Outer West area of the city. Girls and young women will benefit from the generous donation”.