A project designed to prevent ‘period poverty’ in Barnsley schools is being developed between the council, a charity and other agencies after it emerged the cost of providing sanitary products has been putting a strain on education budgets.
According to Barnsley Council, all schools provide pupils with free sanitary products “where necessary” but have been finding that an increasing financial burden, with the authority now acting on several fronts to resolve the problem and improve the service available in schools.
Coun Tim Cheetham, the ruling Cabinet’s spokesman for people, said work was in progress in partnership with the national Red Box charity, which distributes donated sanitary products, to set up a new scheme and said: “This is an issue we have raised previously with schools and they have all responded to say free sanitary products are available where needed.
“It has been noted by schools in our conversations this is becoming an increasing cost and it is an issue we will be revisiting,” he said.
The North East Area Council, which works to improve communities in that area of Barnsley, is already working with the Carlton and Outwood Academies and further work is planned in conjunction with the Red Box project.
The area council and the council’s youth development fund have both agreed to the principle of match-funding work on the topic, which could also be supported by grant funding from a regional body.
A decision on the success of that application is due in December.
Coun Cheetham explained the developments to a full meeting of Barnsley Council, responding to a question from Coun Hannah Kitching, who raised the decision made by Barnsley Football Club to make sanitary products available without cost, which she described as “a fantastic initiative”. She said the situation nationally was resulting in children missing days from school.
In addition to providing products, Coun Cheetham said the academies were holding ‘lunchtime period’ meetings to offer support.
There was also work on “awareness raising for all and reducing the stigma and embarrassment of discussing the issue,” he said.
Coun Kitching said: “It sounds like there is good work being done in the north east area” and asked that Coun Cheetham share information with her and other interested councillors representing other parts of the borough.