Scotland to Provide Free Period Products to all!

Last week, Scotland became the first country in the world to offer free access to period products for all. After leading the way in period provision, providing products in schools from 2017, it has made a huge step forward for menstrual equality.

In a system that is not means-tested, meaning that anyone can access the products, this decision will make a huge difference in the lives of many people that struggle to access the basic products they need to feel comfortable while menstruating.

It is a huge moment to know that MPs discussed this issue at length in parliament, including debating aspects of menstruating such as sustainability. We can only hope that this leads to other countries following suit and providing period products for all.

Given the number of people that menstruate, the essential nature of the products, and the accepted right to access soap and toilet paper, making period products freely available is a no-brainer. It is unfortunately still considered a taboo subject in many places, but with continued campaigning to de-stigmatise periods, we can make change.

If you believe that England should follow suit, then sign Bloody Good Periods petition today. You can also write to your local MP on this issue or donate to one of the many charities tackling period poverty in England today.

Better design, better periods?

You know the drill – you are on your period and need to change your pad, tampon or period product of choice. Maybe you’re at work, at school, a restaurant or another public place, and you don’t want everyone to know you’re on your period. Do you:

a) discreetly carry your bag to the toilet,

b) slip a tampon up your sleeve,

c) grab your pretty pouch full of your kit like it’s a purse and slide off to the loo?

But what if there was another option?

In the last few years a movement has gained traction that aims to de-stigmatise periods: baskets of period products have emerged in workplace bathrooms, often organised by staff and operating a give when you can take when you need system; period products have been made freely available to schools and colleges by the government; and campaigns such as Bloody Good Period’s ‘Walk of no shame’ are working to end the shame of having a period.

Yet, for a product that is as necessary as toilet paper for menstruating people, we should also be seeking solutions at design level. There are emerging products becoming available that can tackle the shame and stigma around periods through better design, as well as further tackling period poverty by making products free and available in toilet cubicles everywhere.

https://www.initial.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Vending-in-Cubical.jpg
Initial’s in-cubicle dispenser

Take hygiene services company Initial. It has developed an in-cubicle dispenser for tampons and pads that is discreet looking and easy to use. Much like a toilet paper dispenser, it hangs on the wall of any toilet and has a full range of product refills to be used privately in-cubicle.

It also has a charitable link, partnering with Freedom4Girls and donating £5 from each sale to the charity to support women and girls in the UK that are struggling to afford period products.

There are other organisations working to design effective solutions to the problem, for example a student collective at Edinburgh Napier’s School of Arts and Creative Industries has worked with Hey Girls to design an in-cubicle wall mounted or free standing product dispenser.

Imagine being able to go to the toilet and knowing that there are products readily available for you, just as there is toilet paper. No need to feel any embarrassment about taking from a basket, no need for elaborate hiding, no need to ask a stranger when you get caught short. Your period is thought of and accounted for at design level in public and private spaces.

And these product dispensers tackle more than just stigma. If they were publicly available everywhere from shopping centres to schools, we would be providing people experiencing period poverty with a real chance to manage their periods discretely and hygienically. Dispensers work hand in hand with existing measures such as hygiene banks and drop-ins to give people as many opportunities to access the products they need when menstruating.

We should have access to discreet and easy ways to access period products, without experiencing shame or stigma. We wouldn’t want a world without free toilet paper, so why do we accept a world without freely available period products? 

Do you think period product dispensers are a good idea? Tell us what you think!

Period *Poverty* Doesn’t Stop in a Pandemic

In the UK today as many as 3 in 10 girls are struggling to afford or access period products during the lockdown. This is according to Plan International UK’s latest report that highlights the extent to which the pandemic is exacerbating period poverty.

As of January 2020, period products have been made freely available by the government to all state schools and colleges across England and Wales. This follows the Scottish government’s landmark move to provide free menstrual products in schools, colleges and universities in 2018 – the first in the world to do so.

Yet, with schools and youth clubs closed, as well panic-buying leading to a lack of affordable products in store, many people are struggling to get access to free period products, or any products at all.

Over half of those struggling to access products have used toilet paper as a substitute in the past, with 1 in 5 girls finding it harder to manage their period due to toilet paper shortages. And shortages of painkillers, particularly the low-cost versions, contribute further to the problem.

And it’s not just young people that are struggling. There are around 14 million people living in period poverty in the UK, with asylum-seeking women having to choose between period products and food, homeless women lacking access to vital period products, and those on low incomes that make tough choices every month to manage their period impacted.

So, what can we do to support those that are struggling to get the essential products they need to manage their periods? And where can you go if you need help?

Below are just some of the amazing organisations continuing to fight period poverty throughout the pandemic. If you would like to learn more or donate please follow the links, and if you or someone you know needs help or support get in touch with these charities.

Bloody Good Period

Bloody Good Period provides menstrual products to those that need them through partnerships with 40 asylum seeker drop-ins around the country, as well as providing education and some bloody good campaigning against period poverty to boot.

During the pandemic, the charity is offering a take-what-you-need scheme at its Alexandra Palace warehouse to get products to people. It is also continuing to deliver bulk supplies outside of London and is working to keep supply to its partners.

If you want to, you can donate to Bloody Good Period HERE to help them keep up the amazing work. Or if you need to access support, you can by scrolling to the bottom of the page HERE.

Hey Girls

Hey Girls is a Social Enterprise that provides ‘no leak, super comfy, chlorine and bleach free, environmentally friendly’ period products. The real winner here though is that the social enterprise model means that all the profits from its ‘Buy-one-give-one’ scheme goes to tackling period poverty.

You can support their work by buying Hey Girls products in supermarkets such as Asda and online. The Hey Girls mission has not stopped during the lockdown, it has partnered with local councils to get period products out there and continues to get products to its partners.

Hey Girls take donations HERE, you could also become a corporate supporter HERE.

The Hygiene Bank

The Hygiene Bank is a network of collection and distribution banks that provide essential hygiene products to those in need. Through community partners such as food banks, it redistributes new, unused and in-date toiletries across the UK.

It also provides soaps, sanitisers, shower gels, and laundry care among other products, which, let’s face it, are as essential as pads and tampons for feeling clean and maintaining hygiene throughout your period.

During the pandemic it is continuing to distribute its products and has announced a major partnership with FareShare to get products to NHS frontline staff.

If you want to donate money or products to The Hygiene Bank click HERE!

Are you struggling to find products in the pandemic? Concerned about period poverty? Tell us what you think in the comments below.