WOMEN in Glasgow are to be offered free sanitary products, which are being added to the kit used by the ‘street team’ of a city-based charity which provides practical support for people who are homeless.
Simon Community Scotland’s street team already provides First Aid and other ‘basics’, such as food, needle exchange and sleeping bags.
The addition of sanitary products is a recognition of ‘period poverty’, the growing number of women who are becoming homeless – including rough sleeping in the city – and new, external funding to help pay for the service.
Women will be provided bags containing sanitary products, underwear, wipes and disposable bags, plus credit card-sized information booklets to help women access wider services in the city such as healthcare and housing.
The bags are being labelled, ‘Period Friendly Pax’, and they will be available – and regularly replenished – at various points throughout the city, including day centres and homelessness services.
These ‘Period Friendly Points’ will also offer the chance for women to speak to trained staff, on issues such as personal health and hygiene.
Simon Community Scotland recently surveyed women who use its supported accommodation services, to find 70 per cent of women saying they had never been told what a period is, nor spoken to anyone about it, and 61 per cent also saying they used toilet paper or newspaper to manage their monthly period because they couldn’t afford sanitary products.
The aim, for Simon Community Scotland, is to extend its ‘Points’ and ‘Pax’ services from its imminent launch in Glasgow to other Scots towns and cities – starting in Edinburgh, via site organisation, Streetwork.
The funding has been provided by Simon Community Scotland, with additional funding – £7,500 – from the Big Lottery Fund.
Last week, MSP, Monica Lennon, introduced a consultation process at Holyrood with the aim of introducing a legal right to access sanitary products, including a duty on schools, colleges and universities to provide them for free in female toilets.
Begins Lorraine McGrath, chief executive at Simon Community Scotland: “Homeless women often didn’t have the opportunity to discuss their periods with their mother, at school or with peers as a consequence of traumatic childhood and institutional care.
“The women are often embarrassed to talk about their periods or ask for sanitary products when they need them and have no means to purchase them.
“For women on the street, and even in supported services, they will often choose to buy food, alcohol, drugs or a bed for the night rather than sanitary products.
“And even for those women who use proper sanitary products, they will often use them for longer than they should; therefore risking infection and toxic shock.”
Adds Lennon: “This is an inspiring initiative from Simon Community Scotland.
“We know that homelessness makes managing periods very challenging and not having access to sanitary products is compounded by the fact that is isn’t easy to access warm water and the privacy of a safe place to look after yourself.
“The added stress of living on the streets during your period and having menstrual blood staining your clothes is an experience that no-one should have to face and I applaud Simon Community Scotland for addressing the unmet needs of vulnerable homeless people.
“Access to sanitary products is about maintaining basic human rights and dignity.
“I’m glad that the Simon Community are taking this initiative forward. It’s also why I’ve launched a consultation on a members’ bill proposal in the Scottish Parliament to ensure that there is free access to sanitary products for anyone who needs them – you can find out more and give your responses on the consultation by visiting periodpoverty.scot.”
Continues McGrath: “Being homeless is bad enough – poor accommodation, lack of sleep and poor nutrition, with only the clothes you stand in.
“Then you get your period. We will provide free, accessible and dignified access to sanitary products, essentials such as underwear and advice for homeless women.
“This project is about providing equality, health, support, opportunity and most importantly – dignity.
“Period Friendly Points will ensure women on the streets do not go without sanitary products and have access to the support they need.”
Notes for editors:
Lorraine McGrath and Monica Lennon MSP are both available for interview on Wednesday, August 23 from 1300 hours.
They will be both available, in Glasgow, at 472 Ballater Street.
Members of the media are invited to send a representative; and are asked to alert Simon Community Scotland of their intention to attend – in advance, by contacting Linda Clark on 0141 418 6980.
Lorraine McGrath, chief executive, Simon Community Scotland, can be contacted on 0141 418 6980 or email@example.com
Monica Lennon MSP can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org or 07775 862476
Photographs of Period Friendly Points and Period Friendly Pax will be available, from today, August 22. Please credit: Euan Robertson.
Pics can be sourced here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2wulgb0drb0mnke/AABxVcuW2cFQTqR23eNBlH6Ra?dl=0
Or via Linda Clark, at Simon Community Scotland, on 0141 418 6980.
About Simon Community Scotland
The Simon Community Scotland has been working alongside people who experience homelessness in Scotland since 1966.
The Simon Community Scotland deliver around 170,000 hours of support every year and engage with up to 3,000 people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
For more information on Simon Community Scotland please visit: http://www.simonscotland.org