Free period products scheme
Use it or lose it
City to Sea and Wen (Women’s Environmental Network) are today urging schools to take advantage of free period products offered by the government saying they must “use it or lose it”.
Plastic-Free periods in schools
Since January 2020 schools have been able to order free period products through a scheme led by the Department for Education, in a bid to tackle period poverty in the UK. City to Sea successfully campaigned for plastic-free and reusable products to be included in what is offered to students, supporting schools to reach the government target to go plastic-free by 2022.
Despite this, only 17% of schools and colleges eligible for the government scheme have signed up and ordered products for their students so far. Many schools are missing this opportunity, and the lack of uptake is by no means due to a lack of need.
A survey by Plan International UK found that 1 in 10 girls between the ages of 14-21 have been unable to afford period products in the UK, a number which has skyrocketed during lockdown. A recent study found that nearly one-third of young menstruating people in the UK have experienced period poverty during lockdown, a problem which is particularly acute for marginalised groups.
“To add fuel to fire, marginalised young people with periods are left with no choice but to turn to risky methods of managing their menstrual bleeds.” “While heroic period poverty organisations have stepped up to fill product provision gaps, local governments must take action now to adequately support schools in taking up the scheme so that no young person with a period is left behind.”
“Being able to manage your period without financial worry or shame should be a fundamental right for all. We have campaigned hard to make sure that plastic-free and reusable options are offered so that people can choose the products that best suit their bodies, their lifestyles and their needs. It’s incredibly important that schools take advantage of this free scheme to tackle period poverty as well as period mishaps – we’ve all been caught short without a product to hand! Our worry is that with more financial cuts on the cards we risk this scheme being scaled back if schools don’t make the most of it.”
With many schools already at capacity in supporting staff and students through the coronavirus crisis, it’s clear that more needs to be done by government and local authorities to encourage and help facilitate the take up of the scheme.