Periods, actually not just Periods but "Period Poverty"
Periods are never going to be an easy subject, some people cant even say the word, you get all sorts of weird and wonderful names to describe what is going on. I'm sure you have heard or use some of them, time of the month, the painters are in or on the blob I am sure the list goes on and on.
But I wanted to raise awareness of Period Poverty. Not abroad, but here at home in the UK, in Devon, in our hometowns.
Girls, are growing up in households where periods are a taboo subject and money is not given for such provisions to keep themselves clean and hygienic and amazingly one in every ten girls misses out of their education as they are unable to go to school when they are having their period. This shocked and horrified me. How can this be true? We are living in 2018, not caveman times.
When I go shopping, I take it for granted that I can afford sanitary towels, they are not a luxury, they are a necessity. I shove them in the basket and walk on, where as some women have to think about spending £2 on them or food. I really struggle to get my head around this.
My period life had a pretty rubbish start. I had my first period on Christmas Day 1993. I was 13 years old and mortified but thankfully I had an open Mum who had already discussed it with me. She had also agreed that I could have the lunch time class in the gym at school to discuss periods and I was given a couple of sanitary towels for signing up, so at least I was prepared.
For the next few years, my periods were awful and I was eventually put on the pill due to the fact it would make me end up in bed for days and I started missing school. My periods also weren't monthly, they would just spring up whenever they felt like it.
In 1995, I was training for Ten Tors on Dartmoor. I remember being caught out and having to ask the all male staff team via radio if anyone could help me. A van was sought and someone's wife was sent to get me supplies. I changed in the back of the van and was sent on my way but I felt hideous and ashamed and crap that this thing took over my life.
Eventually the pill settled my periods and I can almost set my watch by them, but I have been on the pill for so long the doctors want to take me off it and dread having to find an alternative and having to be constantly prepared again.
So to hear a nationwide, community funded initiative to ensure that no young woman misses school because she has her period and lacks access to sanitary products had been set up was music to my ears and I decided to find out more.
The Red Box Project is entirely funded by community kindness, woman to young woman. It is designed to be a simple, no frills scheme to meet a need with minimal fuss. This is exactly how it should be. Girls are embarrassed enough by the whole situation, they don't want fuss, they just want it sorted.
The project is 100% community driven and is run by Women all over the UK.
The main idea is, the places become local collection points where it is asked that women who can afford to buy sanitary towels, tampons, panty liners and suitable underwear are asked to buy double of an item and pop it in a collection box that is local to them.
Volunteer coordinators then do regular pick ups of the items and deliver them to a Red Box in local schools. Girls are then able to help themselves to the products when they require them. It really is that simple!!
Most schools have a dedicated teacher who is able to offer advise and co-ordinates the project so it is ensured that the young women who need the products do get them.
My local collection box is based on a retail park in Newton Abbot, so I simply purchased some tampons and popped them in the box. I didn't have to ask for the collection box either, it was easily visible, just as it should be making more people aware of this issue.
So, what can you do to help?
I ask you to find out where your local collection point is by accessing the Red Project Website: http://redboxproject.org/ or www.facebook.com/theredboxprojectuk and drop a packet of towels or tampons into the box. Its costs roughly the price of a cup of coffee!
Those of you, who are local to me, there is a South Devon Co-ordinator who can be access here: https://www.facebook.com/theredboxprojectsouthdevon/
If there are no boxes local to you, could you co-ordinate one? email@example.com
If that doesn't take your fancy but you still feel strong about the subject, please donate to: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/theredboxproject
I asked some other bloggers if they had heard of the project or even the term "Period Poverty" and I received a mixed response.
Kelly Allen Yes I support this 100%. I was in Chapter Arts in Cardiff recently when I saw a box in the ladies. I immediately popped a couple of sanitary towels into it. It's a brilliant idea and hopefully it will help girls in need. www.kellyallenwriter.comManage
Period poverty is a real issue and no girl should miss school or not observe basic health care because they don’t want to ask for a pack of pads because they know might already be choosing between
buying a tin of beans or putting a quid in the meter. I’ve heard people suggest using reusables which is great and something I support from a health and environment perspective , but the reality for many families is they don’t have funds to run the washing machine and reusable pads are expensive to set up initially if you are to buy enough to see you through a cycle. We need a varied approach that suit different circumstances, but the Red Box Project is one I completely support. Why not buy a pack of pads on your next shop and donate them? Same goes for food banks too, they always need them.
Carla Sabir This is something I dont have a clue about. I didnt know people can't afford to run a washing machine. I thought it was around 50p a wash?!? Is there anywhere I can read more?
Katie Brinkworth I haven't heard of this project but I think it is an amazing idea and would definitely support it. Personally I would donate reusable pads though, as I think they would be useful. livinglifeourway.comManage
Jeannette Cripps I’m a local collection point for this and my crochet group also makes covers for the pads, crocheted, knitted or sewn. Patterns on my @bluedaiscrochet page Lots of people don’t understand period poverty and it provoked a lot of debate in a fb group recently http://AutismMumma.comManage
Emily Macdonald As a teenager in care I had to use my own pocket money to buy supplies. It was horrible. I would get £5 a week and sometimes it wasn’t enough, I’d need two packs. I would be reprimanded for not planning ahead. I was really lucky that there was one teacher at school who would keep some in her desk for girls caught out or unable to buy them! This is a brilliant idea!!
Jaymee Heaton We have a local red box in Peterborough it is such a fab scheme and something i do support! Www.themumdiaries.co.ukManage
Lisa Valentine We have a local red box charity and, as a mum of two teenage girls, I 100% support it. We're 'lucky' enough to be a position where buying sanitary products isn't an issue, however, when I was growing up, I wasn't quiet as fortunate, having to resort to using tissue or asking friends for help every month. It's extremely embarrassing and undignified so these projects are so very important 💕 www.thatbritishbetty.comManage
Gail Maynes I have never heard of this but it sounds fab! I would love to know more - www.yammymommy.co.ukManage
So, can I ask you to do me a favour, can you click on the website and read a little more about this subject, no its not a great evening read but its real and its happening now.
For more information visit: www.facebook.com/theredboxprojectuk