How young people are working together to combat period poverty in Sunderland - and how you can help

As stories about so-called ‘period poverty’ become more common, a group of young people in Sunderland have pledged to do their bit so women on Wearside do not have to go without.

Sunday, 21st July 2019, 4:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st July 2019, 5:00 pm
Red Box hygiene project at Farringdon Community Fire Station. Front from left, project leader Katy Sawyer, Fire Stations Prince's Trust team leader Alan D'Arcy and Prince's Trust Natalie Foster.

The Red Box Project is a nationwide drive to provide free sanitary products in schools and support young people through their period.

Its work inspired Alan D’Arcy, Prince’s Trust Team Leader for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) at Farringdon station, and his group to get involved and deliver donation boxes for girls and women across Sunderland who need access to such items.

Alan’s team were put in touch with the city’s Hope Street Xchange, who have supported the Red Box Project locally, to help fulfill their wish to provide support to those who need it.

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Katy Sawyer with one of the boxes.

Four boxes – containing towels, tampons, clean underwear and tights, and discreet bags – have already been launched at fire stations, community centres and youth projects across the city, with more on the way.

Boxes will be placed in Marley Pots, Millfied and Farringdon fire stations, Youth Almighty in Silksworth, Southwick Neighbourhood Youth Project and a charity shop in Fawcett Street.

Speaking of the work the young people in his group have done, Alan said: “It shows they are really growing up and maturing; they are really thoughtful and care about others.”

TWFRS deliver the Prince’s Trust programme three times a year. It runs for 12 weeks, with the latest intake beginning in September.

The service works alongside the Trust to create a safer community – you have to be aged between 16 and 25, and be unemployed, to apply.

Katy Sawyer, events coordinator at Hope Street Xchange, carried out a collection for the Red Box Project to celebrate International Women’s Day.

She worked alongside Alan and his group to help bring their vision to life – and is also appealing for more donations to keep the city’s boxes well stocked.

She added: “It’s fantastic to know that word of the project is spreading, and that someone as vital to Sunderland as Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service wanted to be involved.”