Period poverty: What is the St Albans community doing about it?

Rosie Morley, Christine McLauchlan, Lucy Daniells Conroy and Mia Cranny.

Rosie Morley, Christine McLauchlan, Lucy Daniells Conroy and Mia Cranny. - Credit: Archant

Not having enough money to buy tampons and towels is not just a developing world issue - it turns out that ‘period poverty’ could also be a genuine issue for people in St Albans.

The sign in the council toilet by the Arena.

The sign in the council toilet by the Arena. - Credit: Archant

A sign has recently popped up in a St Albans public toilet next to a stash of free supplies, inviting anyone who needs them to help themselves.

According to the notice, the items are donated by council staff, which adds: “If you cannot afford to buy your own, you are welcome to use them.”

A council staff member began the pilot scheme in the loos next to the Alban Arena to see how much take-up there is for free period products in preparation for a forthcoming report.

According to the charity Bloody Good Period, which provides menstrual supplies to homeless centres and asylum centres, the cost of having a period over a lifetime is approximately £4,800.

Ellie, a former homeless woman from St Albans said of the scheme: “I think it is a brilliant idea and will help a lot of women.”

Shops and schools are also getting on board with the idea.

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Loreto College, Hatfield Road encourages students to bring in packets of sanitary items as part of their events for International Women’s Day.

Most of the donations are given to homeless charities and vulnerable people.

Lucy Daniells-Conroy, who is leading the project, said: “The girls came up with this idea to raise awareness, to help people who need it and to take away the taboo of talking about periods.

“They wanted to take direct action to help girls locally who can’t afford sanitary products.”

Individuals have helped St Albans women with products too.

St Albans resident Debbie Dennick, 39, said: “I donate directly and discreetly to women who need it.

“I also give to places like Feed (food bank).”

Susan Gardener said on the All Things St Albans Facebook page: “I am donating an item a day over Lent to The Hygiene Bank.”

UK-based charity Hygiene Bank, which has a co-ordinator in Harpenden, believes that hygiene is not a privilege but a basic right.

The Little Gym in Harpenden has also decided to start supporting local women who experience period poverty.

Budgens at the Quadrant have a sanitary collection point, as do Cell Barnes Lane Co-op.