A Big Day in the Fight Against Period Poverty – But Our Work Is Not Yet Done.

We are delighted that Philip Hammond has announced in his Spring Statement a commitment to funding menstrual products in secondary schools and colleges, but we argue that this policy must be extended to include all children in full-time compulsory education, such as those in primary schools.

Anna Miles, founder of the Red Box Project said: “This is a testament to the huge commitment of our coordinators on the ground and the unstoppable energy of many activists, in particular, the incredible team behind the #FreePeriods campaign, of which we are very proud to be a part. However, we know from our work, in thousands of schools across the UK, that the need for free menstrual products exists for all children in full-time compulsory education, including those in primary school. We hope to see furthercommitment from the Government in meeting the needs of all children who menstruate, regardless of their age. Every child should have an equal opportunity to participate in their education; this is their fundamental human right.


Gemma Abbott, Director of Free Periods and coordinator for The Red Box Project added: “We are so glad that the Government has at last recognised its responsibility for addressing this inequality in schools, although we need to see a coherent policy that covers all full-time compulsory education settings, not just secondaries and colleges. For example, children can start menstruating as young as 8 or 9, so it is essential that primary schools are supported. It is also vital that there is an ongoing, sustainable and ring-fenced funding commitment, enshrined in legislation. Let’s take this amazing opportunity to ensure that no child will ever again have to miss out on their education because they cannot access the menstrual products they need.

Given the limited scope of today’s announcement, therefore, the #FreePeriods legal campaign remains ongoing – and we are ready to hold the Government to account. If you would like to continue to support us:
• please tweet Philip Hammond (Chancellor), Penny Mordaunt (Minister for Women and Equalities) and Damian Hinds (Secretary of State for Education), who will be the architects of the scheme, to let them know that you support the #FreePeriods campaign for free provision of menstrual products for ALL children, including those at primary school; and
• please do continue to share this page (www.crowdjustice.com/case/freeperiods) and donate if you can!

Thank you, as always, for your incredible support. Together, we have made a real difference.

This is a chance to end period poverty, for all children. Let’s take it.

Free Periods: Amika George, teenage ‘period poverty’ activist and campaigner, launches new legal campaign for free menstrual products in schools

Today, Amika George, Founder of Free Periods and ‘period poverty’ activist, has announced a new legal campaign to provide free menstrual products to all schoolchildren. The campaign launches with a Crowdfunding drive to raise funds for exploratory legal work and in support of the broader legal campaign, with the requirement that £10k must be raised in 30 days for any of the pledges to be collected.

The Free Periods campaign, in partnership with the Red Box Project and supported by The Pink Protest, seeks to ensure that menstrual products should be freely available in schools to all children who need them. Access to education is a fundamental human right, and Free Periods believes that no child should be forced to miss school as a result of not being able to afford pads or tampons.

Free Periods is being advised by the human rights team at Law firm Hausfeld & Co. This new legal campaign follows the one year anniversary of the Free Periods protest to end period poverty, where over 2,000 people gathered outside Downing Street to call out the UK government’s failure to take action against period poverty.

In the UK, 49% of girls have missed an entire day of school because of their period, whilst 1 in 10 young women (aged 14-21) have been unable to afford period products. In London alone, 80,000 young women 1 and girls are affected by period poverty.

2018 saw significant progress for the cause in Britain, with the Scottish government becoming the first national government ever to provide free access to menstrual products in all schools, colleges and universities, whilst in Wales, the government pledged £1m to address period poverty. In England, we still have no policies in place.

The campaign also launches with a film made by Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lina Plioplyte, featuring Amika and ten schoolgirls from London.

Amika George, Founder of Free Periods commented: “I am tired of the government’s inaction and so, just over one year on from our Free Periods protest to Parliament, I am proud to launch a legal campaign, calling on the UK government to provide free, universally accessible menstrual products in schools and colleges. With support from others, we are confident that we can bring positive change to our communities by offering young girls access to the menstrual products they need in order to participate in their education, which is their fundamental human right.”

Anna Miles, Co-Founder of the Red Box Project and director of Free Periods, added: “We are proud to provide thousands of schools with red boxes of free period products. This is made possible by the kindness and generosity bestowed upon us by local communities across the UK and the hard work of our over 200 volunteer coordinators. But access to education should not rely on the kindness of others. It is time for the government to step up.”

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/freeperiods/


To support the campaign visit the Free Periods crowdfunding page: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/freeperiods/

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Share the CROWDJUSTICE PAGE:
Share the FREE PERIODS POSTERS on social media and post about our goal.

Here is an example:
‘#FreePeriods launches new legal campaign to make sure that no child misses school because of their period. Be a part of this change. Find out how to get involved here: www.crowdjustice.com/case/freeperiods’

Visit the Free Periods website for more information on the campaign.

WHO ARE FREE PERIODS?

Amika George
Amika founded #FreePeriods when she was 17. Now 19 and at university, she has received global
recognition for her campaigning work, including receiving a Goalkeepers award by Bill & Melinda Gates,
in conjunction with the United Nations, and was recently listed by TIME magazine as one of the 25 most
influential teenagers in the world in 2018.


The Pink Protest

The Pink Protest is a community of feminist activists committed to engaging in action and supporting each other
. Founded by Scarlett Curtis, Grace Campbell, Alice Skinner and Honey Ross, they organise events and campaigns allowing young people to get involved with real, grassroots activism.

The Red Box Project

The Red Box Project’s Anna Miles, Clegg Bamber and Gemma Abbott The Red Box Project is a national community project working to provide free access to period products in
local schools. The Red Box Project has over 200 projects run by volunteer coordinators across the UK and is committed to supporting young people to access period products until the government steps in.


Janvi Patel
Chairwoman and co-founder of Halebury , a pioneering NewLaw firm, and advisory board member of Equality Now.

For further information on the campaign, please contact Amika George at freeperiodscampaign@gmail.com

The Red Box Project Reaches 2000 Active Red Boxes in the UK

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:

redboxprojectuk@gmail.com

InstaPoets: Always to Donate a Pad to Red Box Project

To highlight the struggles, shame and consequences of period poverty, Always has enlisted the help of poet, Hollie McNish and a collective of bright young voices, to develop InstaPoems around the topic. For every like or comment made on these InstaPoems, the brand will donate a pad to The Red Box Project.

To check out the InstaPoems and like/comment to generate donations, follow @Always_uk_ireland on Instagram

If you would like to help us, please email: redboxprojectuk@gmail.com

Always Pledge Their Support to the Red Box Project With Their #EndPeriodPoverty Campaign

We’re delighted to announce that Always has chosen us as partner for the next phase of the Always #EndPeriodPoverty campaign! The brand will be donating thousands of pads to The Red Box Project so that girls across the country have access to free sanitary products via our red boxes.

 

Always is a market leader and so the scale of this is absolutely huge for us.

 

To date, our coordinators have quietly placed over 650 red boxes of free sanitary products in schools and the project is growing rapidly.

 

Thank you Always for helping us make this the last ever generation of young women to suffer the indignity of period poverty! Watch this space to find out how you can help generate pad donations and #EndPeriodPoverty.

Calling All Women! Get Heard in UK Parliament!

Our very own coordinator from The Red Box Project – Stoke Newington, London went to an event about women being heard in UK politics. The sTandTall Event was held at The Houses of Parliament, London. Gemma’s account from the event is detailed below:

 

Some people seem to be born holding a placard, with their sense of justice and moral compass ready formed. Others can spend a lifetime looking inward, sometimes spurred into temporary action by a particularly grave humanitarian crisis or well-targeted aid appeal, but otherwise focussed on their own world and their own problems.

What moves a person from the latter to the former? How do people become engaged with the world around them?

I was awakened by my kids. (In this sense, figuratively, although clearly literally also!) My first baby allowed me to suddenly take breath after a hectic ten years in a demanding City job, where I worked hard, played hard and eased a quietly simmering social conscience with a few charity direct debits and marathon sponsorships. My bubble was popped. I realised that I needed to better understand the perilous disadvantage and injustice around me, that seemed to be worsening daily. I realised that I didn’t want my children to spend half their lives in wilful ignorance of their privilege, as I had done. I realised how important it was for them see in me a person I would be happy for them to become.

So I began to volunteer. I’ve provided legal advice to prisoners and people with concerns about their human rights via the Prisoners’ Advice Service and Liberty; I am a trustee of a small charity called A Mile in Her Shoes, which offers women experiencing multiple disadvantage the opportunity to find a sense of community and empowerment through run and games activities; I am the joint co-ordinator of my local Red Box Project, a scheme addressing the issue of period poverty by providing free menstrual products to girls in local schools who might otherwise go without.

I certainly don’t expect a medal for any of this by the way. I know I am horribly, horribly late to the party. But I stand by the wisdom of the proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” There’s not much point in chastising my former self for my inaction; I might as well get on with trying to make change in the present. And if there is one benefit to my tardiness, it is that I should be well placed to convince other similarly disengaged people that it is never too late to help.

It was with this in mind, that I eagerly answered this clarion call: “Calling All Women! Get Heard in UK Parliament!

The invitation was to a workshop at Parliament, to discuss how individual activists and campaigning groups can harness their power and rights to influence policy. The event was hosted by sTandTall, a charity that helps women and girls to quickly and anonymously access the support they need after they’ve been in an abusive relationship. The session was led by senior Parliamentary Outreach officer, Charlotte Dobson, who did a great job of explaining Parliamentary processes in a clear and accessible way.

It would take a while to cover all of the content (and you would obviously be much better asking Charlotte herself; she said she is happy to host similar sessions for other groups underrepresented in Parliament) but here are a few things I found particularly useful:

I knew I could contact my local MP by email and on Twitter but I hadn’t thought to identify members of the House of Lords who might be sympathetic to my agenda. (Charlotte’s top tip: google “Hansard House of Lords” and “[key issue]” for a record of historical discussions of that issue in the House of Lords.)

Nor had I thought to check the register of All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) for those whose work could be relevant – for example, there are APPGs on poverty and homelessness, both of which I am now following on Twitter with interest (@APPGPoverty and @HomelessAPPG). If your local MP isn’t able to help you for whatever reason, approaching members of a relevant APPG is a great next step.

Select Committees also often have their own Twitter accounts (and an email update service you can sign-up for on the Parliament website) so that you can stay up to date with their work and be notified if they are looking for people to provide evidence or comment on developments. The Women and Equalities Select Committee has a Twitter account (@WomenEqualitiesSelect) that I am also now following.

The event was as rewarding from a networking perspective as from an educational one. There was a brilliant group of women in attendance, with a diverse range of interests and experiences. Fellow participants spoke of their work tackling such issues as period poverty, refugees’ rights, gender-based violence, post-natal rehabilitation, homelessness and mental health (I wish I had been quick enough to take notes of everyone’s introductions!). Our interests were manifold – but underpinned and unified by a focus on women’s rights and a desire to learn how to be more effective in our campaigning.

The women I spoke to were all so interesting – and interested in the projects I am working on currently! It brought particular pleasure to pass on to my Red Box sisters details of people who could be part of the Red Box Project in the future, whether as volunteers, through our partnerships with schools or both!

I left Parliament feeling motivated and energised. My work with A Mile in Her Shoes and the Red Box Project is incredibly satisfying already, but I am really eager to take things further in terms of campaigning and influencing policy.

I have realised, at last, that I have the agency and capacity to make change.

Activist? Activated.

 

Gemma Abbot – Red Box Project, Stoke Newington – Coordinator.