How your International Women’s Day donations will help pupils at a Sunderland school

A donation box containing sanitary items has been set up at a Sunderland school in a bid to break the stigma of period poverty.

Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 05:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 15:18 pm
Katy Sawyer donates supplies to The Link School. Gina Nesbitt (R). Pupils from left Millie Hodgson, Summer Lyndsey, Abbey Smythe and Alisha Webster.

The Link School, in Pallion, has this week accepted a donation box from The Red Box Project, a community group which provides schools with boxes containing free period products, and Hope Street Xchange in the city.

Sanitary towels, clean tights, spare pairs of underwear, wipes and brown paper bags are packed inside the box to make sure the young women at the school have everything they need at their disposal.

The donations were collected at the Hope Street XChange at an event held on International Women's Day.

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Gina Nesbitt, a key stage 3 teacher at the school, told the Echo how much the donations mean to the school and its pupils.

The Link School is an alternative learning provider working with children across key stages, 2, 3 and 4.

Gina said: “It’s great for us. The Government has just announced that they are wanting to put an end to period poverty and make sure that all mainstream schools have access to products, but that’s not going to extend to us.”

Girls attending The Link School have been removed from mainstream school, and often do not have access to the support and products they might need.

Introducing the box, Gina said, means the young women can help themselves to what they need during their period and no longer feel vulnerable or embarrassed.

She added: “It’s such an easy thing to solve and it helps remove the stigma.”

Katy Sawyer, event coordinator at Hope Street Xchange, was calling for donations of clothes, toiletries and sanitary items ahead of the event to support The Red Box Project and Smart Works Charity, which helps dress and coach unemployed women for job success.

At the event, on March 8, Katy and her colleagues collected 40 bags of clothes and filled a wheelie bin with period products to donate.

The clothes will go to Smart Works in Newcastle, where they will provide outfits to women going to interviews and those starting jobs.

Any clothes which may be unsuitable for a working environment are auctioned off to raise money. The funds then go towards coaching and mentoring women using the service.

Speaking of the donation made to The Link School, Katy said: “It was absolutely brilliant to meet some of the students and they were really excited about getting the box.”

A number of inspirational speakers also attended the International Women’s Day event to talk about their own work and initiatives.