The Red Box Project started 21 months ago, in Portsmouth, and now has 2,000 active Red Boxes in schools and other educational settings across the UK, ensuring young people have access to menstrual products whenever they need them – no questions asked.
How does it work?
The Red Box Project encourages individuals in the local community to support a Red Box in a school near them, working together to keep it filled with period products and spare underwear.
The Red Box is easily accessible through appropriate members of staff and plain bags are included for discretion. Posters placed in lavatories and changing rooms signpost the box, its contents and location. Access to the Red Box is available to everyone, no questions asked.
Open discussions are encouraged between teachers and students about the subject of periods generally, and the availability of period products via the Red Box specifically.
Why is it needed?
Period poverty is prevalent. The latest research from children’s charity Plan International UK reports that one in 10 young women (aged 14-21) have been unable to afford period products. And poverty is just one issue that may affect a person’s access to period products. There are varied social and cultural reasons why products might not be available at home, many of which are linked with the stigma that persists around menstruation.
Overstretched teachers already take on the responsibility of helping pupils in need and schools keep small stocks of menstrual items for emergencies. The problem is that limited budgets mean they are usually able to hand out just a couple at a time, sometimes even having to charge students per product.
The Red Box supports young people throughout their period with as many menstrual products as they need, plus the added reassurance of a few left over to prevent a panic next month. Of course, periods happen during the school holidays too and so students are encouraged to take extra for times when school is closed. Coordinators also place Red Boxes in appropriate settings such as youth clubs, libraries and church halls which are accessible all year round. This is what makes the project special.
What is the impact?
No tearful panics in the loo. No wrapped-up toilet roll. No anxious embarrassment. No missed lessons or staying at home.
No missed education.
The Red Box Project is powered by community kindness and focused solely on supporting young people. It is designed to be a simple, no frills scheme to meet a need with minimal fuss.
Castle View Academy in Portsmouth has said since the scheme was introduced it had helped increase attendance levels by nearly a third. [https://goo.gl/ki7tV5]
Anna Miles, Co-founder of the Red Box Project, commented:
“A young woman’s education will shape her future. We are determined that this will be the last generation of girls to suffer the indignity and embarrassment of period poverty.
“When we started this project, the need for the provision was clear to us. Within 3 months we had 6 boxes and by the end of 2017, 9 months in we had 35 boxes. By the end of 2018, just one year later, we will have over 2000. It’s incredible.
“The support we have received to date has been amazing. If you want to get involved in providing menstrual products to young people in your community, please do get in touch with us. We would love to hear from you”
A teacher from a school that has a Red Box commented:
“Our girls are no longer whispering, ‘miss, do you have some pads’. Our girls are not having to decide between buying lunch or sanitary protection. They feel loved and supported”
To coordinate or support a Red Box please contact us: