My daughter and I have collected for period poverty for a year. We have learnt a lot about reaching out to charities and the generosity of friends.
It all started with an advert on the television for sanitary towels. There was a statistic on period poverty and I have to say in my “Surrey bubble” it was not something I was aware of. Sitting with my daughter we talked about the reality of not being able to afford what we accept as essentials. We recoiled at the indignity and the circumstances that as woman you could find yourself in.
The next day I researched further and was shocked at some of the statements and facts:-
- Period poverty has forced more than a quarter of females to miss work or school
- 1 in 10 cannot afford products
- 1 in 7 borrow products
- If you have 450 periods in a lifetime and on average the cost is £128 a year
- Every time you have a period an average cost could be £11.00
- The average cost for a packet of 20 pads or tampons is £2.37
The first charity I found was “Bloody Good Period” which officially at the time had not received charitable status subsequently they have now with the rise in media coverage. I reached out to them to set myself up as a collector of products. They were predominantly covering London, however they gave me a contact to liaise with.
Bloody Good Period focus heavily on Asylum seekers, who only receive £37.75 per week. This amount does not reach very far, and the main priority for that money would be food.
We decided to host a coffee morning with friends and ask them to bring products to donate. The joy is receiving products and not getting involved with money with your friends. I was amazed at how keen everyone was to get involved and the scale of the first collection.
After the success of the coffee morning we needed to find appropriate places to donate. Our first drop was to Asylum seekers at Elmbridge. Over the year we provided three donations to them, however it was an hours drive and the charity were not overwhelmingly welcoming, which again is an eye opener. In my naivety I stereo typed anyone that worked in charity must be so warm and welcoming. Instead you can meet reserve and a slight weariness about who you are.
My next stage was to reach out to the Guildford MP Anne Milton. Whatever your view of politics there are some really hard working MPs who believe in giving back to their constituents. Anne gave us the name of a more local charity, Guildford Action. Initially hard to get in touch with, you have to persevere and be persistent. We now have a good system and they are very happy with the donations and even posted a picture of us on their Facebook page.
The church support Asylum seekers and we have found the Guildford diocese very welcoming. St Saviours in the centre of Guildford support 5 or 6 Syrian families.
Half way through the year we received an email from Anne Milton’s office letting us know that Nadhim Zahawi MP, Children and Families Minister, that the Government will provide free sanitary products to all girls in England’s primary schools from early next year. This builds on a previous announcement that the Government will do the same for all girls in England’s secondary schools and colleges.
We send a stock sheet to Bloody Good Period after every collection, this can be time consuming sitting on the floor counting pads and naming brands. My family are now quite used to every couple of months a hallway full of sanitary towels.
As we reached our anniversary we compiled our statistics to share with our very generous friends. Seeing the figures on a chart was very rewarding for my daughter and I.
Giving back is not straightforward, and you have to work at the systems that will work for you. It needs to be an easy process and work with people who value you what you are doing. Share your journey with the people that donate and make sure you have a partner involved as there are highs and lows and great to have a supporter at all times.
Ultimately we know that our collections have brought self respect back to a lot of women and we will continue in 2020.