Notes from Period Poverty and Menstrual Equity workshop attended by Mandy McKenna on behalf of North Norfolk Labour Party 12/2/2020

1. PLAN

Nicola Bristow from PLAN introduced the session and explained PLAN was 80 yrs old and they help girls in more than 26 countries. Their research  puts girls at the centre. 48% of girls are embarrassed by their periods and 1 in 7 didn’t know what was happening when they started them.  1 in 10 had to improvise pads. 1 in 5 changed product due to cost.

2. BROOK

Brook is 50 years old. Founded by Helen Brook as the Brook Advisory Centre.

They provide education and free menstrual products. They reach young people by going go into schools  to do workshops and assemblies.  They work in groups  of 10-15 in  1-2 hrs sessions.

They follow up with the under 16s and see them every 3 months.

Topics covered:-

Menstrual health, female anatomy, Periods and contraception, Periods thru to menopause.

What is normal and know where to reach out if anything wrong – infections etc

Myths and  taboos, how periods often are kept secret and they discuss insecurities around female anatomy and its function.

They aim to empower girls about their bodies.

They show how to use tracker charts and provide products :-85 % pads , 14% tampons and 1% mooncups .

Brook asks schools to be a lot more period positive. Some girls wern’t  allowed to go out of lessons to the toilet. In some schools toilets locked except at lunchtime. There is a fear of talking to male teachers. Some schools have free products but many didnt know where they were.

Education needs to include all genders, language needs reshaping not excluding trans, non binary and intersex individuals. Need to include people who don’t menstruate.

Sustainable products are in demand

Empower young people. Save the planet. Be more inclusive

Reusable period pants

Trans people don’t want internal products and they also offer independence for people with Special Educational Needs.

See Brook website for education materials.

3. Tricky Period

Service devised by  Caroline Varney Bowers at the Forum  Millennium Library, Norwich. Lex Barber spoke on her behalf.

People donate products. Users can get postit and tick what they want and it is given to them in bag. No questions asked and it is  free.

You don’t need a fixed address to join the library and  you can use the loos. It helps reduce school truancy (due to periods). Groups of girls come in to get products together. Now older women, new parents and Mums come in regularly for products.

 Period Poverty Campaign has gained traction nationally

Tampon tree. Xmas 2017 Norwich Library.

April-Dec 2019 470 packs and 450 loose packs distributed . People are invited to take what they need. Moving feedback:-

‘Thank you for helping out when we lost our jobs.’

There is also the

Peoples Picnic in the Haymarket 8pm everynight 25% women 10% sex workers 5% homeless

Also the Parenting website :  Eat weep mum repeat.

4. City to the Sea Presented by Jaz.

 Different products (mooncups, reusable pants, tampons and reusable applicators, plastic free pads) were shown and passed round.

On average each woman uses 11,000 period products in a lifetime.

There is 5 carrier bags worth of plastic in every pack of pads. Fabric tampons and applicators are  flushed down loo in their millions

No period  products should go down toilet – they make fatburgs as do wetwipes and cotton buds, they create blockage in pipes and  they are the 5th most common item littering European beaches.

They contain  Bpa and Bps which are endocrine disrupters BUT organic products are  now available. There are 100 different menstrual cups.

Organic tampons are very popular and make a 94% saving but reusables (menstrual cups and  reusable menstrual pants) are  expensive upfront. Average cost £20.

Campaigning to make products more well known. Period product aisle in supermarkets is where the least time spent. So we need to put them in accessible place.eg  NHS England- all hospitals will be providing free products. Schools programme for PSHE programmes. City to the Sea aim to

Reduce pollution and tackle taboos and period poverty,

Periods not always covered enough in schools. Boys are often left out of the discussion

Rare to talk about unconventional products or product disposal.

Period product advertising need a serious revamp – blue liquid hasn’t portrayed periods for what they are! Still a lot of stigma and misunderstandings surrounding periods.

Need: a Government Scheme to provide period products  free of plastic!

And a scheme where schools can order sustainable products

 Rethink Periods PSHE teachers to deliver a periodeducation in schools.

Paid for by Waitrose on the 5p bag deal. The Lessons are online.

Any further information from Nicola.bristow@plan-uk.org

Mandy McKenna For North Norfolk Labour Party. Feb.2020

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