New scheme donates free sanitary products to tackle period poverty

Lisa-Marie Kelly, local coordinator for The Red Box Project, with Berwick Academy SENco Dawn Tait.
Lisa-Marie Kelly, local coordinator for The Red Box Project, with Berwick Academy SENco Dawn Tait.

A new community initiative has been launched by a woman determined to ‘eradicate period poverty by providing sanitary products for free’ in our communities.

Lisa-Marie Kelly, 25, from Alnwick, has set up the Red Box Project North Northumberland, as part of an extension to the national Red Box Project campaign.

She is the volunteer coordinator for the north of the county, currently covering Amble up to Berwick.

The aim of the project is to provide free sanitary products to young women and girls, by giving schools and youth centres a constantly-stocked Red Box of sanitary products and essential items.

Nearly half (49%) of girls have missed an entire day of school because of their period; of which 59% have made up a lie or an alternate excuse.

Whether due to poverty, trouble at home or even just being caught short one day, the Red Box Project North Northumberland is there to support them and ensure they have free access to essential sanitary items.

Speaking about her first Red Box of free sanitary products, which has been delivered to the Duchess’s Community High School, in Alnwick, and Berwick Academy last week, Lisa-Marie said: “I as a young woman in the North East am all too familiar with the impacts of growing up with the effects of poverty.

“When it’s a choice between eating or buying sanitary products, unfortunately lots of young women aren’t left with much of an option.

“It’s this reason that the Red Box Project was started and I am determined to end period poverty and fight the stigma girls still face today, here in north Northumberland.”

The local project will also be delivering boxes to Alnwick Community Centre and The Berwick Youth Project in the coming weeks.

The aim is to support as many schools and youth centres as possible, giving local girls and women access to the free sanitary products whenever they may need them.

Lisa-Marie said; “We have already seen an overwhelming amount of support from our local communities in the donations we have received, with much of the awareness so far being spread on social media.

“I am really hopeful for the future of this project and if you are able to, you can support the young women in the area by donating sanitary items to one of our many collection points or financial donations can be made on our JustGiving page.

“Thank you to everybody who has supported us so far, this is only the beginning in the fight against period poverty, but each step forward helps the young women in our area have dignity during their period.”

The project started in Portsmouth 18 months ago. Today, there are more than 1,000 active Red Boxes across the UK.

The box is easily accessible through an appropriate member of staff and plain bags are included for discretion. Posters placed in the girls’ lavatories signpost the box, its content and location.

Leaflets are provided for both the pupil and the teacher which gives a thorough overview and understanding about the purpose of the project. Open discussions are encouraged between the teacher and pupil about the subject of periods.

Donations of sanitary items can be made at Sainsbury’s, Costa and Weavers Court, all in Alnwick, as well as any Alnwick Food bank donation point, or at Morrisons, in Berwick.

For more information, email redbox_northnorthumberland@outlook.com