Free Period Angus ensured women and girls received period products when many were facing economic hardship during lockdown.
Prior to COVID-19 the Angus Community Planning Partnership had introduced a wide range of accessible venues and partners to provide free period products, along with a Periods and Menopause policy that also included period poverty, introduced following a motion to Council by Cllr Julie Bell.
All Angus Council premises had boxes of freely-available period products in all toilets – we have received very positive feedback from male employees about being able to access these for partners or daughters.
We invested £10, 000 in Proper Pads, a Forfar-based micro business, to deliver workshops to make your own sustainable pads, as well as providing free pads to 397 women and girls. These workshops were based in community settings such as Murton Farm, near Forfar, Kirriemuir Town Hall and included groups such as women in our community justice services, members of a sustainability community group and open access to all.
We issued an online survey and have received very positive feedback including:
“It was great to meet like-minded women and learn a new skill – I will pass this on to my daughter”
“Meeting new people at the session was brilliant, we had a great chat and I didn’t feel as alone with my menstrual health”
Our next phase was introducing a more sustainable approach to period products and we had negotiated an initiative with Hey Girls (this link will take you away from our website) makers of sustainable pads based in Scotland, to make sure each S1-S4 girl in our secondary schools received a pack of 5 washable pads and holder. These were due to be distributed around the time the lockdown started. Immediately we hit lockdown, officers arranged to send out 3 months supply of ordinary period products for home delivery to anyone who needed them and this was heavily promoted on social media through our new #FreePeriodAngus (this link will take you away from our website) profiles, including the Angus Council website (this link will take you away from our website).
Local food hubs in Angus set up by volunteers to deal with food insecurity and for people in self-isolation also provided free period products in partnership with the existing system.
In total, 37,942 period pads and 27,767 tampons have been distributed to 442 women and girls across Angus.
Following the survey, we are now focusing on:
- Youth Engagement – building on the findings of the initial survey we will create a follow-up survey to gather the views of young women, girls and those transitioning.
- Co-Producing – The survey results will form the basis of a piece of work with young people to co-produce an action plan for the next 6 months, it is anticipated this will include the types of products to be distributed, educational requests and some innovative pieces with the 2 mascots. This group can also provide useful insight into how to proceed with reducing period poverty in schools.
- Training – we are kicking off a great project to get student nurses in schools as part of their placements – this will focus around menstrual wellbeing, mental health and body image. We will also link this to the Hey Girls training tools.
- Red Tent – The Red Tent online events will continue monthly through Angus Creative Minds and focus on building a peer support network which will underpin the employer engagement work.
- Employer Engagement – the Angus Community Planning Partnership has signed off the ‘Free Period Angus – Period Dignity’ campaign which will see businesses throughout the area given the option to stock period products for their employees and customers. They will also signpost those experiencing menstrual health issues to the Facebook page and red tent events for support.
- Products – Work will continue to distribute products throughout Angus utilising the 3 distribution agencies – through schools, through Dundee and Angus College and through Free Period Angus. This will ensure that nobody in Angus is going without. Increased communications around this will help to raise awareness and show the partnership working in progress.
In the 21st century, that period poverty exists in Scotland is horrific – we are so pleased that the national and local activity to tackle this gendered issue is being taken seriously and that we are removing the stigma about periods, period poverty, menstrual health and menopause.
Article contributed by Cllr Julie Bell, Angus Council and Shelley Hague, Strategic Policy and Planning Manager, Angus Council