Lorely Burt calls for help for girls in “period poverty”

Every time I remember when I’m in the supermarket, I try to buy a packet of sanitary towels to stick in the food bank donations trolley because I know how difficult it is for women facing poverty to deal with the additional cost that periods bring. The BBC reports this week that girls are missing school because they can’t afford sanitary protection.

Girls in the UK are missing school because they cannot afford sanitary protection, a charity has said.

Freedom4Girls was contacted by a school in Leeds after it became concerned about teenage girls’ attendance.

The group provides sanitary products to women in Kenya – but is now doing the same in West Yorkshire.

One teenager told the BBC she taped toilet roll to her underwear and missed school “every month” because of her period.

Two teenage girls spoke to BBC Radio Leeds about how they tried to cope without tampons, sanitary towels or pain relief.

A discussion on Women’s Hour this morning also highlighted the problem.

It’s good to see that our Equalities spokesperson, Lorely Burt, is bringing this up in her speech in the Budget debate in the House of Lords.

I wonder if the minister saw the story about a charity which sends sanitary products to girls in Africa being asked if they could donate some to girls in Leeds, who are bunking off school each month because they can’t afford sanitary products to wear to school.

This is a shocking state of affairs, where low-income girls and women cannot afford hygiene products during their period

My lords, we can’t have this in THIS country.

So can I make a suggestion for the government to consider?

Could we not give sanitary towels to girls who qualify for free school meals?  We already know who these girls are, and the cost of setting up the system would, I’m sure, be very small.

And it would mean that ALL girls in school could confidently attend school all month round without having to worry about the embarrassment of their period letting them down.

The government is investing hundreds of millions of pounds for their pet project of free schools, many of which will end up as selective – helping mostly middle class children further up the ladder at the expense of the rest.

Liberal Democrats want you to invest a very modest amount to protect the dignity and the education of some of the lowest income, most deprived children in our country.

That’s not too much to ask is it, for a government that wants ‘a country that works for everyone?

If you want to make a donation to Freedom4Girls, the charity mentioned in the news article. you can do so here. And remember, when you’re in the supermarket, buy some towels or tampons for the food bank.



* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Eddie Sammon 14th Mar '17 - 6:47pm

    Important issue. Good idea to have free sanitary protection for girls on free school meals. Should extend it to women on benefits too.

  • This is a great suggestion and I must remember that it’s a useful addition for the food bank box.

    I remember at school having the nurse come to talk to all of the girls, and we were supposed to get our parents’ permission to accept the free sample box of Tampax minis, which I thought was ridiculous. Hopefully there should be no issues about having to get parental permission should this proposal go ahead.

  • Lorraine OMara 14th Mar '17 - 10:45pm

    Very interesting and far more widespread than you can imagine, I am a young persons support worker working closely with young women who are homeless, either from leaving care or estranged from family. The young women have to be in education or training to live with us and have to survive on Income Support, JSA and or ESA. When they have finished contributing to rent, food, bus fares and electricity sanitary needs are way down and staff out of the kindness and need use our own money to purchase this necessary items.
    We are living in 2017 and young women are deprived of this most basic item for personal surely this can’t be allowed to continue.

  • Helen Dudden 16th Mar '17 - 9:29am

    I walked out of a meeting on food banks, disgusted at the very idea. Now as the situation is fully showing what its effects are, this is one of them.

    Perhaps, it could prove more useful is someone went shopping where the food collection banks are, bought super market brands and began the urgent need to provide for those very unfortunate enough to not have a personal necessity.

  • I am sorry, but you can buy packs of 20 from all the main suppliers at our local pound shop.

    So for the price of twenty cigarettes you can buy at least six months supply. For the price of the average pub drink you could get three months worth. I am not saying some people are not in desperate situations but come on….maximum cost two pounds per month, learn to prioritise.
    As for food banks a lot of people use them because they can rather than need to. I average a friend who works for the Trusses Trust and she openly admitted that they don’t run any rigourous checking system on need or ask for proof of any dependents. So the figures on numbers of individuals using food banks are at best a bit flaky.

  • Lorraine, being able to supply them to clients if needed is one thing, staff using their own cash, is to purchase them is a professional boundaries issue, and they should know it,
    regardless of the intent behind the act.

  • “The government iswill be investing hundreds of millionsbillions of pounds for their pet vanity project of free schoolsHS2

    Actually, being a little more reasonable, given the amount of stuff that companies give away to new parents, I would have thought companies could be persuaded to voluntarily donate sanitary products to schools, particularly as it would also contribute to their social/community contribution and thus be fully tax deductable.

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