Schools urged to take up period poverty offer

Period poverty call to Northumberland schoolsPeriod poverty call to Northumberland schools
Period poverty call to Northumberland schools
Just over half of schools in Northumberland are taking advantage of a Government scheme to provide free period products, new figures reveal.

The Red Box Project – which campaigned for the scheme to be introduced after one in 10 young people were found to be experiencing period poverty – said all schools should be taking part in the project but Department for Education data shows that only 66 of the 112 schools in the area (59%) ordered free period products for their pupils last year – at a cost of £15,727.

Schools can order the products online, they are delivered free of charge and available to all pupils - including those who have forgotten their own or cannot afford them.

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Cath McEvoy-Carr, Executive Director with responsibility for Adult and Children's services said: "It is really important that we do all we can to support our students, and this project will support those who need it, so they don't have to miss school due to their period.

"The Covid pandemic will undoubtedly have had an impact on how many products were needed whilst students were learning from home.

"However, despite the last year we do encourage all our schools to take advantage of the funding available to them through the Red Box Project to directly support the children and young people in their care.”

She added: "It is great to see that 60% of our eligible schools are already on board with the project, and we will continue to champion this and we encourage more to sign up."

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Nationally, the uptake of the scheme has been around 41% in primary schools, and 76% secondaries.

Clegg Bamber, co-founder of The Red Box Project, said: "Starting your period at any age can be a distressing time but this scheme takes away some of the pressure and angst. Government should be striving for 100% take-up across all institutions.

He added: "Whilst the period products scheme is a great step forward and something we campaigned for, there are limitations. Schools are only in attendance for 39 weeks of the year."

A Department for Education spokesman said: “The Red Box Project remained in operation during partial school and college closures, and now that they have returned we expect the uptake to return to pre-lockdown levels.”