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.
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.
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.