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Durham University

University and City: Growing together

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Helping women in 'Period Poverty'

(4 April 2019)

L-R: Lucy Harding, Nicola Dixon and Laura Day

Our staff and students have donated an incredible 15,100 sanitary products to help tackle Period Poverty in North East England.

What is Period Poverty?

According to research by children’s charity Plan International UK (2017), one in 10 young women (aged 14-21) say they have been unable to afford period products, and 12 per cent have had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues.

The charity says the enduring stigma associated with menstruation, the high cost of period products and a lack of education, make up a ‘toxic trio’ of period poverty issues that need to be addressed.

Helping local women in need

Ten collection points were set up across the University as part of a hugely successful Towel and Tampon Drive in the run-up to International Women's Day.

The items donated were then sorted by volunteers and taken to local women's refuges, foodbanks, Sexual Abuse Referral Centres (SARCs), and health centres.

The Meadows SARC in Durham, Oasis Community Housing (Gateshead), Tyneside Women's Health and the Billingham & Stockton Borough Foodbank were among the organisations who benefited.

Ros McNally, a project team leader for Oasis Community Housing, said: “The young women we support in our projects rely on Universal Credit and face genuine hardship.

“These donations show that people do care and will help young women carry on with their daily lives. We’re very grateful for the practical support of the staff and students at Durham University.”

The response was overwhelming

Organiser Laura Day, from the University’s PVC Colleges & Student Experience Office, said: “Sanitary products shouldn’t be considered luxury items. We wanted to raise awareness of the issue of Period Poverty and help women in our community who can’t afford to buy towels and tampons.

“The response to the appeal was overwhelming and we’re pleased that so many members of staff and students chose to get involved. We hope to do it again next year and help even more people if we can.”

Lucy Russell, UK Campaign Manager at Plan International UK, said: “Period poverty is a very real challenge facing many girls in the UK, and it’s devastating to hear of the impact it is having on girls’ lives, their ability to be themselves, and their self-esteem.

“For too many girls, dealing with their period each month is proving a tough challenge – and in 21st century Britain, this shouldn’t be the case.”

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