Blaenau Gwent Council is working with local schools, the Youth Service, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and other partners including voluntary groups to provide free sanitary products throughout the county borough.
As part of a drive to tackle the issue of period poverty across Wales, the Welsh Government has awarded a grant to enable the Council to provide the free products.
The Council’s supplier for the products, phs Group, is also championing the cause of period equity across the UK, and is delighted to be partnering with Blaenau Gwent on one of the first such schemes in Wales. Washroom and hygiene services provider phs is working with Blaenau Gwent to facilitate its goal in achieving period equity through the installation of more than 30 coin-free vending machines and accompanying sanitary products.
All schools have now taken delivery of their products which will be dispensed by teaching staff in primary schools and from vending machines in secondary schools.
Luisa Munro-Morris is the Head-teacher of Bryn Bach Primary School in Tredegar and thinks the scheme is a great idea.
She says: “We were absolutely delighted when the Council got in touch to offer us the scheme. Period equity can seem like a taboo subject, but it is important that we support our young people in a variety of ways by offering free products but also by talking about the issue so that we can remove any stigma and embarrassment about having periods that may hold young people back.”
Councillor Clive Meredith, Blaenau Gwent Council’s Executive Member for Education said:
“It’s not acceptable that in 2019 some young females are unable to access and use feminine hygiene products, due to financial or other circumstances. This can have a negative impact on a young person’s life, especially in relation to their education and social lives.
Thanks to funding from the Welsh Government we have been able to work in partnership with our schools and Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board to set up this much-needed scheme and I hope it will help to make a difference to our young people.”
Clare Noble, Head of Healthcare at phs, said: “Phs has been engaging with schools, colleges and universities to develop a solution to period poverty which best suits the needs of young people. We have created a new free-vend sanitary machine which can be positioned within washrooms, offering free sanitary products at any time. They are discreet, hygienic and convenient, saving young girls the potential embarrassment of having to go and ask for products which they may not be inclined to do.
“After being extensively trialled within schools, we’re confident free-vend machines are the most accessible, convenient way of tackling period poverty. Blaenau Gwent has taken a comprehensive, hands-on approach to period equity which we are sure will make a real difference.”
Blaenau Gwent’s Deputy Youth Mayor Charlotte Clark is also supporting and promoting the scheme, and recently helped launch a survey from Aneurin Bevan Health Board to find out the extent of the problem of period equity in our wider communities, not just among young people.