Imagine being a 13-year-old girl who can’t go to school for a week out of every month because her mum can’t afford to buy sanitary products?
Or a single mum who is forced to use a sock because she won’t be able to feed her kids if she buys tampons when she has her period?
These are just a few examples of what has been labelled ‘period poverty’ and it’s happening today, in Kirkcaldy, in 2018.
It’s not some third world problem, like the appeals you see on the toilet doors in service stations up and down the country. It’s here and it’s getting more and more common as the effects of Universal Credit bite deeper.
That’s why Kirkcaldy Foodbank this week launched its latest appeal for people to help those girls and women who are experiencing period poverty.
If a few hundred people just add a box of tampons or a packet of sanitary towels to their weekly shopping then they could help many women and girls out.
Marie Penman, a long-standing volunteer with the Foodbank, and a journalism lecturer at Fife College, helped launch the appeal at St Bryce Kirk in Kirkcaldy with some of her students who have written their own pieces on the subject – with some featured here.
Each of the students spent just a few pounds buying sanitary products, and they also had a good donation from Tesco to kick start the campaign, with plans to contact manufacturers to try to secure some corporate sponsorship.
And the Foodbank has already had its first customer.
“We had a lady this morning who was collecting food and when she saw our trolley of sanitary items she asked if she could take a pack.
“What we want to do is to raise this issue, which for many women is worse than not being able to afford to buy food because of the embarrassment factor. Women might come in for food for their kids, but there’s an element of being embarrassed asking for sanitary products.
“We have heard stories of girls staying off school or college or using socks rather than asking for help, and this is something we have to stop from happening.”
“We are still asking people to donate food but if they could also help with sanitary products we would be very grateful,” added Marie.
“Or if they would prefer to give us a cash donation or, even better, set up a standing order for a monthly donation that would be great.
“We are trying to get more workplaces on board with our standing order scheme, and even a few pounds every month could make a huge difference.
“For the first time last month our income matched our expenditure, and we got a huge boost from the increase in the number of standing orders pledged as it gives us the security of a fixed income.
“Universal Credit and the sanctions people are facing from that has seen demand for food rocket and in one month we doubled the amount we spent on food from £3000 to £6000.
That was a spring month – not even a busy winter one, so we need as much help as we can get from the public.”
Where to donate:
Fife Free Press, Carlyle House
Arnold Clark, Carberry Road
Bank of Scotland – High St, and Rosslyn St,
Co-operative, Ralston Drive
East Vows Complementary Health, 182 Esplanade,
Holistic Centre, 142S St. Clair St
St Bryce Kirk
TSB Bank, High St
Spaghetti Tattoos, 409 High St.
Glory Hole Church Centre,
Kinghorn Community Centre,
Potter About, 253a High St