Over the course of a lifetime it is estimated sanitary products cost more than £5,000 with women spending around £13 every month and despite being essential – the items are still taxed, a charge which has become known as the ‘Tampon Tax’.
To tackle the issue in Middlesbrough a trial has begun at Thorntree Community Hub initiated by local councillor Geraldine Purvis and activist Emma Chesworth.
With the support of Middlesbrough Council and staff at the Hub, a basket has been placed in the female toilets which allows those requiring sanitary products to take them free of charge, and for those who are able to donate them.
Thorntree Community Hub welcomes hundreds of visitors every day and already the basket has been emptied and re-stocked a number of times in its first few weeks.
Cllr Purvis, who represents Brambles Farm and Thorntree, said: “This is such an important issue. I have read about children not going to school because parents cannot afford sanitary products and other distressing stories.
“I am fully backing this idea and I hope other members of the community understand the seriousness of it and give it their backing too by making people aware it is here for those who need it and that those who can do donate to help others.
“We can’t sit back and do nothing while people in our communities are forced to make choices between sanitary products and other essentials such as food or warmth which is what we are seeing.”
It is hoped the sanitary product baskets can be rolled out further into other community hubs and schools in Middlesbrough as the fight is taken to period poverty.
A survey by Plan International UK of 1,000 14 to 21-year-olds found that:
- One in ten girls have been unable to afford sanitary products.
- One in seven girls has also struggled to afford sanitary wear.
- One in seven have had to ask to borrow sanitary wear from a friend due to affordability issues.
- More than one in ten has had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues.
- One in five have changed to a less suitable sanitary product due to cost.