As part of Challenge London Poverty Week 12 - 18 October, we look at period poverty.
Period poverty is on the rise. Caroline from the charity Tricky Period, set-up in 2019, says:
"Since Covid-19, almost overnight the demand tripled. Not only are we now seeing more young women on the streets in need but individuals and families who were just about getting by pre-pandemic have now been pushed over the edge often due to job loss and the knock-on effects. When you are surviving hand to mouth, then period products slip down your basic essentials list. Period poverty is very much alive and kicking and in the current climate looks like things are only getting tougher."
The organisation works in partnership with local libraries in East London to get products out to women. Caroline confirms, “It took no time to conclude that we were needed. Week in week out on Streets Kitchen homeless outreach we were meeting women who are having to shoplift for products, stuff leaves and newspaper in their knickers, go without food to buy products, suffer humiliation when being caught short. When we reached out to women's refuges, sex worker groups, mother and baby assessment units and DV services the response was overwhelming and heartbreaking.
Sanitary products – a necessity for women and girls for much of their life - are treated as a luxury and are taxed at 20%. Whilst talking about menstruation was a taboo, many women had to suffer in silence. Now though, campaigning charities like A Bloody Good Period (‘Periods don’t stop in a pandemic’) are working to change this.
One of our mums is on a mission to make sure no woman goes without sanitary protection.
Before we met Sheryle, she had been volunteering at Street Kitchen and supporting the Tricky Period initiative. While Sheryle was working with us, she realised that some St Michael’s mums could benefit from these sanitary packs. She was especially concerned about mums coming to us straight from the hospital after the birth of their baby.
She set to work making up the packs and then popped to our head offices to drop them off to our director Sue.
"I honestly don't know where I would've been without St Michaels, and I just wanted to make sure other mums like me had everything they needed," she told Sue.
Sue, our director, said:
"It was so wonderful that Sheryle thought to do this for us. It's clear that the support being offered by Tricky Period to women and girls is essential. We have noticed a big increase in the numbers of our families asking for referrals to foodbanks and struggling to make ends meet."
For more information about Tricky Period, visit their website.