Red Box Project aims to tackle period poverty in Stevenage

Members of Stevenage Youth Council helped deliver Red Box Project donations and donation bins to sch

Members of Stevenage Youth Council helped deliver Red Box Project donations and donation bins to schools around Stevenage. Picture courtesy of SBC. - Credit: Archant

With girls missing school when they have their period because they can’t afford to buy sanitary products, Stevenage Borough Council is backing an initiative to help combat the problem.

Nearly a third of children - 29.2 per cent - in Stevenage are living in poverty, according to The Campaign to End Child Poverty.

Councillor Sharon Taylor, the borough council's leader, has allocated £1,000 of the local authority's 2019/20 budget to the Red Box Project - an initiative founded in 2017 to help tackle the scandal of period poverty in 21st century Britain by providing red boxes filled with free period products, tights and underwear to schools.

Red Box Project donation points are now located across Stevenage, including The Oval and Great Ashby community centres.

Barnwell and Peartree Spring Primary School are among the Stevenage schools with stocked red boxes for pupils to access.

Cllr Taylor said: "We are working with the Co-op in Stevenage on the Red Box Project. This will provide free sanitary products in Stevenage schools for those young women who face the embarrassment of not being able to afford to buy them." She said it is a "vital project to ensure pupils can have access to these important toiletries".

Stevenage friends Sophie Harrold and Sanya Masood set up A Bloody Good Cause in 2015, to collect and redistribute sanitary products to people in need.

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Sophie said: "With a third of children in Stevenage living in poverty, initiatives like the RBP are fundamental in ensuring students are able to reach their full potential at school by having their basic necessities covered."

Sanya added: "Nobody should have to miss out on education as a result of their period. We are thrilled Stevenage Borough Council is supporting this important initiative and taking action against period poverty."

In March, the government announced it is to provide free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges in England from September, and in primary schools from early 2020, after campaigners called for action to end period poverty.

A 2017 poll of 1,000 UK females aged 14 to 21 found one in 10 had been unable to afford sanitary wear. A further 12 per cent were forced to improvise protection because of the expense of products, and 49 per cent had missed school due to a period.