Period poverty

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Video: 'Period poverty' sanitary products 'improve school attendance'

A school has found that a scheme to give girls free menstrual products has helped improve their attendance.

The Red Box project was set up to help solve the problem known as "period poverty".

Castle View Academy in Portsmouth said since the scheme was introduced it had helped increase attendance levels by nearly a third.

It is estimated about 137,000 girls will miss school in the UK each year because of a lack of access to sanitary products.

Period Poverty: Sanitary products improve school attendance
A school says attendance has risen after providing pupils with free menstrual products.

Tackling period poverty in Brighton

Sarah Booker-Lewis

Local Democracy Reporter

One-off funding has been proposed to help the Red Box Project to offer free sanitary products in schools across Brighton and Hove.

The project aims to tackle period poverty by supplying donated sanitary products for schoolgirls.

Sanitary towels

In Brighton and Hove, "red boxes" are provided in six secondary schools, eight primaries, two special schools and one college.

A report going before Brighton and Hove City Council's Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities and Equalities Committee on 3 December proposes allocating £3,620 towards the start-up costs of extending the project to all local schools.

Each "red box" contains a variety of products - a selection of sanitary wear, underwear, wipes and heat pads, giving young people who have access to the box the ability to take what they need without question.

Hygiene poverty: 'Make-up makes me strong'
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Period poverty highlighted by council

Dean Kilpatrick

Local Democracy Reporter

Claims that period poverty is a problem in the Medway Towns are a "gross exaggeration", according to a leading councillor.

Research shows all but one of the area's secondary schools provide sanitary products for pupils, with an average of between 10 and 15 products taken each week.

The school which does not currently have such a facility is an all-boys, although it does have a cohort of sixth form girls.

Cabinet member Councillor Adrian Gulvin (Conservative) said: "When the issue was first raised at full council (in May), it appeared we had a terrible problem here in Medway.

"That proved to be a gross exaggeration, but that's not to say there aren't areas where improvements can be made."

The council's public health team is now working with Medway Youth Trust and Medway Foodbank, with the latter having seen an increase in sanitary items donations since the issue was first debated.

Of 185 teenagers surveyed by the public health team, 36 had heard of girls missing class because they did not have the right feminine hygiene products for their periods.

Suffolk County Council pledges to tackle period poverty

Jason Noble

Suffolk Local Democracy Reporter

Suffolk County Council has vowed to tackle period poverty - but fell short of committing cash to the cause.

The council’s Labour group put forward a motion to Thursday’s full council meeting calling for a £15,000 investment in tampons and sanitary towels at all local authority schools, specifically for girls who could not afford them.

But an amendment tabled by the ruling Conservative group was instead approved, which said its public health team would promote existing projects which tackle period poverty such as Lowestoft Rising and a pilot by Suffolk Libraries.

Sanitary products
Getty Images

The amendment failed to pledge any funding, which led to five councillors voting against the proposals and 16 abstaining.

Helen Armitage, Labour spokeswoman for health, said it was "not particularly unexpected, but a little bit disappointing", while Conservative councillor Mary Evans, who proposed the amended motion, said the original Labour motion would only support a "small amount of girls".

Call for free sanitary products gains support

Sarah Booker-Lewis

Local Democracy Reporter

Free sanitary products may be made available in Brighton & Hove schools after a petition gained cross-party support.

Local resident Samantha Whittaker presented the 1,528-signature petition to Brighton and Hove City Council in July and it was discussed at a meeting earlier.

Mrs Whittaker said: "You would not expect your child to not have access to toilet paper."

The council has asked for a report into the financial implications and educational opportunities.

Research by Plan UK found that girls and young woman feel stigmatised, can experience bullying and often miss school due to not being able to afford sanitary products.

Currently, the council works with schools to provide products, and the Red Box scheme, which encourages people to donate products for distribution within schools, has a collection point at Hove Town Hall.

Red Box project co-coordinator Michelle McCann said: "The Red Box Project ensures that no young person misses school because of their period and that they have access to much-needed products."