Sheffield campaign group 'delighted' after government announce free sanitary products scheme for all schools and colleges
A Sheffield campaign group which aims to reduce the number of females struggling to access sanitary products said it is ‘delighted’ with a new government scheme to tackle period poverty among students.
The fully funded scheme, launched by the Department for Education (DfE), means that all schools and colleges across England will finally be able to access free sanitary products from Monday, January 20.
They will be able to order a range of products, including eco-friendly and reusable options, from supplier Personnel Hygiene Services Group (PHS) by using an online portal, via email or by phone making them readily available for students when they need them.
It is hoped this will break down stigmas and raise awareness around menstruation as well as ensuring no young person's education is disrupted by their period.
Natalie Walker is co-founder of Campaign Against Period Poverty (CAPP), a network which works with a number of homeless shelters, women’s refuges, educational organisations, women’s centres, food banks and outreach projects to improve support for young girls and women in Sheffield and North Derbyshire.
CAPP also doubles as the Sheffield branch of The Hygiene Bank, a national charity with a broader focus on supporting everyone to access hygiene, sanitary and baby supplies.
Although delighted with the new scheme, Natalie argued that more needed to be done to end period poverty.
She said: “We are delighted with the legislation effective from Monday to ensure schools have sanitary products for students but we are just as committed to ensuring adults and individuals outside schools have access to sanitary products. Fighting hygiene poverty is just as important as it impacts on wellbeing, health and hygiene as well as social mobility, job opportunities and dignity.
“Until then we will keep fighting period poverty and hygiene poverty in Sheffield.”
The DfE scheme is set to cost up to £20 million this year and will benefit an estimated 1.7 million eligible students.
It follows the government’s commitment last year during the spring statement in which it pledged to pay for sanitary products for primary schools, secondary schools and colleges, in an effort to tackle period poverty.