Pilot project aiming to end period poverty is coming to Barking and Dagenham

Helen Marshall, Brook's chief executive. Picture: L. Cunningham

Helen Marshall, Brook's chief executive. Picture: L. Cunningham - Credit: Archant

Free sanitary products are to be given to teenagers in Barking and Dagenham as part of a new pilot scheme aiming to end ‘period poverty’ in the borough.

The project is being run by young people’s charity Brook and girls’ rights charity Plan International UK.

The scheme, funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Tampon Tax fund, will allow vulnerable and disadvantaged young people to access free tampons and sanitary towels.

It also aims to educate young people about menstruation by teaching them about hygiene and debunking myths.

Information on different products, including sustainable options, will also be provided and the charities will reach out to those living in the poorest areas, the homeless and those in supported housing.

A report by Plan International UK revealed that 40 per cent of girls in the UK had used toilet roll in place of proper period products for financial reasons.

Tanya Barron, chief executive of Plan International UK, said: “Every month girls are being forced to use makeshift period products because they are struggling to afford them, with more than a quarter of girls, 27 per cent, saying they have used a product for longer than its intended use because they can’t afford to replace it.

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“It is disgraceful that in a developed country girls feel they have nowhere to turn.

“Over the past year the campaign to tackle period poverty has really gained momentum and now we will harness that energy by developing a community of practitioners, bringing together educators, activists, academics, health professionals and more to share what works.”

The scheme, called P-Card, is based on the C-Card scheme which allows 13 to 24-year-olds to access free condoms and sexual health advice. The P-Card initiative will target the same age range.

Barking and Dagenham is one of only four London boroughs involved in the trial along with Hackney, Southwark and Lambeth.

Helen Marshall, Brook’s chief executive, said: “Through this partnership our sustainable model will change the lives of over 3,500 young people with the provision of free period products and vital education in order to eradicate the stigma and shame surrounding menstruation.”

The project will run from September 2018 until March 2020.