PKAVS is working through COVID-19 to provide women with essential period products.
At PKAVS, a local charity in Perth & Kinross, we provide a huge range of services; from a carers’ centre, to the local Third Sector Interface, mental wellbeing support, and work with minority ethnic communities. The one thing all of our client groups have in common though, is women and those women get their periods, pandemic or no pandemic.
PKAVS Third Sector Interface have been working with the local Community Planning Partnership to roll out the provision of free period products locally for over a year now, and our premises are one of the places in Perth & Kinross where free period products are available to absolutely anyone, no questions asked. When we began to make plans to close premises to the public and start working remotely, we quickly realised that this is a service many women and girls cannot do without. With schools and services working remotely, and shops selling out of essentials, an alternative was required.
Period Dignity requires equality of access. For us that means free products, available when you need them, no questions asked. We deliberately don’t talk about Period Poverty, not because Period Poverty work hasn’t made incredible strides, which it has, but because we want to dismantle every barrier that women and girls face to achieving Period Dignity – including stigma of any kind.
We landed on a simple solution – the Tampon Taxi. A tongue-in-cheek name for a service which has been a lifeline for many. Women and girls who need period products simply send a text, and we send someone to them to drop off period products within the next day or two. The service is completely free, and delivery is contactless. Since the scheme was launched in mid-March, free period products have been delivered to approximately 60 households.
Initially, we only had the capacity to do this in Perth City, but volunteers quickly came forward to allow us to expand to cover most of Perth & Kinross, including another local organisation, Home-Start Perth, who have donated staff time to deliveries in one town. We have also received donations of products from other organisations, which have allowed us to expand into sustainable and reusable options. Menstrual cups have been a particularly popular option.
In April, we worked with North Inch and Muirton Community Council to install a box in the centre of Perth, which we keep stocked up to allow all who need period products to collect them. This was an expansion of their impressive give and take boxes throughout the city, where local people can leave and collect food. Demand for this option has been incredibly high, with the box emptying most days.
The Tampon Taxi is all about advancing Period Dignity. It is open to anyone who needs it, and they don’t have to tell us why. There is no standard to reach to qualify for the service or justify using it. Taking on this mantle has allowed us to start important conversations locally about Period Dignity, what it means, and why it’s important. Access to free period products is an essential service, and it’s at the heart of creating a fairer and more equal society.
If you would like to know more about the Tampon Taxi, or PKAVS Period Dignity work more generally, please email PeriodProducts@pkavs.org.uk. We would particularly love to share learning with those already running or considering starting up similar projects.
You can read more about further work being undertaken by PKAVS to support carers during COVID-19 here.