Schools urged to take up period poverty offer

Under half of schools in Sunderland are taking advantage of a Government scheme to provide free period products, new figures reveal.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 10:56 am
Period poverty call to Sunderland schools
Period poverty call to Sunderland schools

The Red Box Project – which campaigned for the scheme to be introduced after one in 10 young people were found to be experiencing period poverty – said all schools should be taking part in the project but Department for Education data shows that only 41 of the 104 schools in the city (39%) ordered free period products for their pupils last year – at a cost of £19,550.

Schools can order the products online, they are delivered free of charge and available to all pupils - including those who have forgotten their own or cannot afford them.

Lorraine Hughes, Public Health Specialist, Sunderland City Council: said: “It’s perhaps not surprising that the uptake of free period products was lower last year given that schools were closed to the majority of pupils for an extended amounts of time during the pandemic.

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"The City Council is committed to ending period poverty and we would encourage schools to take up the offer of free period products for all pupils who need them.”

Nationally, the uptake of the scheme has been around 41% in primary schools, and 76% secondaries.

Clegg Bamber, co-founder of The Red Box Project, said: "Starting your period at any age can be a distressing time but by having the period products there available to students who need them it takes away some of the pressure and angst.

"Government should be striving for 100% take-up across all institutions.

He added: "Whilst the period products scheme is a great step forward and something we campaigned for, there are limitations.

"Schools are only in attendance for 39 weeks of the year and menstruation cycles do not stop for school holidays and this has to be considered when thinking about the issue of period poverty affecting young people."

A Department for Education spokesman said: “No pupil should ever have to miss school because of their period.

"The Red Box Project remained in operation during partial school and college closures, and now that they have returned we expect the uptake to return to pre-lockdown levels.”