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What is period poverty and how can I help?

Every month, us girls have to deal with our period. Sure, it’s not exactly fun but if you’re lucky enough you can just grab a box of bettypads and get on with your day. For some girls though, coping with their period isn’t that easy. You might have seen on social media or whilst watching the news with your parents that period poverty is on the rise in the UK, but what does that actually mean?

What is period poverty?

‘Period poverty’ is the phrase used to describe the fact that some women and girls can’t afford sanitary products, and instead are having to soak up their flow with scrunched up tissue, socks, rags or even newspaper. Imagine coming on your period and not being able to buy a box of pads or tampons to soak up the blood! It’s awful, and it’s happening right here.

Who are the girls and women suffering?

A charity in Leeds was contacted by a local school who were concerned that some of their pupils were regularly missing lessons due to their period. Freedom4Girls, which provides products to women in Kenya, agreed to do the same for the UK-based girls. A poll was recently published in Scotland too, that claimed almost one in five women were unable to afford period products, with most saying they had to resort to using toilet paper, with others relied on rags, old clothes, T-shirts, socks and newspapers.

Is it affecting their health?

Yes. Not being able to regularly change or wear sanitary protection is a health risk – it can cause thrush, urinary tract infections and other medical problems related to hygiene, but it also has a bigger impact on education and mental health. How can women and girls reach their full potential if they’re skipping school and feeling self-conscious or embarrassed about not being able to protect themselves whilst on their period?

How is betty helping?

If you’re signed up to bettybox then you could already be making a major difference (thank you!) We’ve introduced a new scheme to help you easily donate any leftover pads or tampons to people in real need of period essentials. Simply pop any unopened and unused femcare into the pre-paid postage bag in your bettybox and send them back to us completely free of charge. We will then donate them to our local charity partners who will give them to those in need.

betty will also be donating over 40,000 pads to schools in the UK, helping to tackle period poverty. We’re offering free sample packs of bettypads to schools on request, too. So get your teacher involved, girl!

Is anyone else trying to help?

Thankfully, there are some great charities and organisations that are helping to end period poverty. If you want to help, you can donate to these and other similar organisations, or to your local food banks. If money is a bit tight at the moment, the best thing you can do is share information and talk about period poverty. Raising awareness and improving knowledge is key!

Bloody Good Period: This charity wants every girl and woman to have “a bloody good period”. It aims to “create a sustainable flow of sanitary protection for those who can’t afford to buy them”. They also believe that it is “absurd that sanitary products are not free to those who need them”. We agree 100%!

#FreePeriods: A national campaign started by 18-year-old schoolgirl Amika George, who wants every teenage girl already eating free school meals to receive free pads and tampons too. Over 156,000 people have already signed her petition, why not sign it if you haven’t already? Amika has also worked with The Pink Protest, a community of activists using social media such as Twitter and Instagram to bring about social change.

The Homeless Period: A charity that supports homeless women by providing menstrual products to homeless shelters around the UK.

It was recently announced by the Welsh government that a £1m fund would help to distribute free sanitary products to schools, community groups and food banks across Wales. In parts of Scotland, low-income women are being offered free sanitary products as part of a government pilot scheme.

On 26 March, it was announced by our government that (for the first time ever) the money generated from the tampon tax will go towards helping end period poverty. Thousands of women across the UK will benefit.

We don’t doubt that there is definitely still more to be done, but we are glad the government is taking steps in the right direction. Every girl and woman deserve the right to feel confident and comfortable when she’s bleeding. Period.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.

Image: Amber Griffin

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