Women and girls resorting to pillow cases and tea towels as period poverty worsens

Pexels Period poverty, where women can’t afford to buy period products, has risen dramatically during

Pexels
Pexels

Period poverty, where women can’t afford to buy period products, has risen dramatically during lockdown as UK workers face furlough and redundancies.

Instead, women are resorting to use alternative items in place of menstrual products like tea towels, pillowcases and even newspapers.

UK charity Bloody Good Period said while it usually distributes 5,000 packs a month, it has handed out 23,000 packs in the past three months of lockdown.

Fellow charity Freedom4Girls said the number of packs it has distributed has risen five-fold in and around Leeds, where it operates. The charity normally distributes 500 packs per month but had given out 7,500 packs since the start of lockdown on March 23.

Tina Leslie, who runs Freedom4Girls, told the BBC: “If you can’t manage your periods your emotional mental health is just plummeting. You feel awful, you feel dirty – you just need to have that protection so you can go about your daily life.

“Corona has exacerbated the issue over lockdown. Community centres weren’t open, schools were closed.”

Earlier this year the government launched a scheme to give out free period products in schools and said this was still in operation.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We introduced the period product scheme so that students are able to access these products when they need them at school or college.

“The scheme remains in operation and schools and colleges are still able to order a range of period products through the online portal and distribute them to students, whether they are learning from home or at school or college.”

Leslie told the BBC that her charity has received requests from schools for products because they had ‘run out’.

She added: “The level of deprivation and poverty and people not able to afford products has been growing slowly but this has just exacerbated the issue and I don’t think it’s going to get better any time soon.”

In May we reported on a survey by Plan International that found that three in 10 girls in the UK had struggled to afford or access period products during lockdown. Of those, 54 per cent said they had to use toilet paper as an alternative.

A separate survey by WaterAid found more than half of menstruating women (55 per cent) in the UK had experienced increased challenges managing their periods under lockdown.

Rose Caldwell, chief executive of Plan International UK, said at the time: “We already know that the coronavirus outbreak is having a devastating impact on family finances all over the world. But now we see that girls and women are also facing widespread shortages and price hikes on period products, with the result that many are being forced to make do with whatever they can find to manage their period.”

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