Period poverty is a worldwide phenomenon. Cases of poor menstrual hygiene are commonplace however we tend to think of this phenomena in Third World Countries.
Indeed we know that countries such as India, Kenya and Cambodia have battled for years to prevent girls from dropping out of school in communities where mattress stuffing and leaves are often used for menstrual management.
What we don’t tend to think about is it happening in our own country.
Period poverty hit the UK public consciousness last year due to reports in the media of schoolgirls in Leeds routinely missing school because they were unable to afford menstrual products.
Children as young as 10 were choosing to stay at home as they cannot face the shame and fear of going to school using socks stuffed with tissues, old torn T-shirts or newspaper.
What we don’t tend to think about is it happening in our own backyard
It was brought to our attention through a conversation with one of our patients who is a teacher in Coventry that this is actually happening here and now.
We have teenagers, whose families cannot afford sanitary protection, missing school; this perpetuates not only a social bias but a gender one too.
It encouraged us to think about what could be done; there has been a proposal taken to parliament to suggest provision of free sanitary wear for those on free school dinners.
This has yet to be acted upon.
Upon discussion within the practice we have placed a collection box in the reception area for sanitary donations. Once the box is full it will be donated to schools in need.
This project has reached the public forum and BBC news is coming to the surgery with the teacher in question to do an interview to raise awareness. This is fantastic news for the project and for community awareness.
Our PPG were informed also for community involvement and encouragement.