Working with the National Citizenship Service

 

Our Red Box Project coordinator, Tizzie Kite, talks about her amazing experience, running a workshop for 150 inspiring young people. 

It’s August, it’s sweltering hot, and I’ve got the task of leading workshops for around 150 teenagers over 2 mornings in a lecture theatre.

I was invited to talk to the young people taking part in NCS, or the National Citizenship Service, to encourage them to help out with The Red Box Project for the community outreach section of their summer programme.

As my first group began to arrive, it soon became clear to me that these kids had no clue what Red Box was about, and boy, were they in for a shock. My workshop begins with the young people listing as many euphemisms as they can for periods. The record from the two days was 18, and my personal favourites included ‘paging Edward Cullen’, ‘Satan’s Waterfall’, ‘My Dolmio Days’, and simply, ‘A Shit Time’.

My workshop also featured games such as ‘higher or lower’ and a version of ‘The Price is Right’, which compared the cost of basic food items to the cost of sanitary products. The results left the young people, particularly the boys, shocked.

After these games, we looked at some situations that young women could find themselves in, and what they would do if they were in them. An example we discussed was the story of 14-year-old Samantha.

She lives with her parents and 2 younger brothers. Her mum is very ill, and spends most of her day in bed, while her dad works long hours to cover the rent and bills, leaving very little money for food. Her Dad sends her to the shop with £5 to get food for the whole family, but her period has just started, so Sam is left with a tricky situation. She can buy some pads and potentially have her family go hungry for a night, or she can buy the food and skip school until her period stops.

The discussions were interesting, with many of the young people questioning why these products cost so much, why there is a tax on them, and why the government doesn’t supply them—something that many people have been wondering for years!

After feedback, I added a third option to their scenarios. What if they could go somewhere to get free sanitary products that would last the entire length of their period? The young people agreed unanimously that this was the best option for all of the scenarios they were given.

Using their understanding of the situation some people face, we learnt about what period poverty was with help from a video from Bloom on YouTube.

Finally, at the end of the workshop, I tied all the loose ends together by telling them about The Red Box Project and the work that the organisation does across the UK. The feedback from the young people was absolutely phenomenal. They wanted to know what they could do to help, whether there were red boxes in their schools, and I even had a few of the leaders ask me how they could get involved. One asked me to come and do a workshop at his workplace, too!

The NCS slogan is “say yes”, and I’m hoping that some of the young people I have spoken to over the last two weeks will “say yes” to helping end period poverty!