Period Poverty: Friends of Regent House (FORH) tackle the issue head on

Julieann Brownlee
03 February, 2020 : 11:01
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Period poverty had been highlighted in the Press in 2019, in response to this I sounded a few parents out with teens, if FORH were to roll out a pilot scheme to support teens experiencing period poverty, their response was overwhelming – absolutely YES. 

‘Period Poverty’ was added to an agenda at one of our meetings in 2019, many questions arose: Is this really an issue in 2019 and why? I explained there are of course many reasons girls experience period poverty:

  • Low income families/Working Poor – those under existing financial pressure 
  • Lone Parent Families – one example, Teen staying with Dad, too embarrassed to ask for money to purchase products
  • Extremely heavy periods – excess purchases 
  • Extenuating family circumstances
So how did FORH roll this out?

As a Team we discussed the practicalities, how we could actually action this– the decision was made to provide a type of basket – bearing in mind it was extremely important the products were fully accessible i.e. the girls did not have to ask permission.

Firstly, the team wanted to make sure the girls themselves were behind this and if they felt it would be beneficial – again the overwhelming response was 'yes'. Secondly, we wanted the girls to decide where to place these baskets. They provided a list of 7 or 8 locations around the School e.g. PE department, reception and medical room bathroom, all these locations being easy to access.

Next step was to fill the baskets, The FORH Team have worked extremely hard building social media platforms to create a great avenue for parent communication – a post was placed on our pages with details of our intention to run a pilot scheme tackling “period poverty” and asked for donations of sanitary products. AGAIN we were totally blown away by the response. We received enough sanitary products and also deodorants (roll on - no aerosols permitted in school), wipes and even tights, to fill all the baskets for a full school year!

Fast Forward Eight Months….

This idea, pulled together in a matter of days, received such an awesome response throughout the Regent Community. Importantly, we reduced the stigma surrounding periods and supported our girls to manage their period with dignity.  

Minimum effort - HUGE impact 

We have proved how easy it is to roll out this scheme and I would like to encourage other Schools/PTAs in Northern Ireland to support the eradication of period poverty – if we can do it then so can YOU!

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Julieann Brownlee
I have been the Chair of Friends of Regent House (FORH) for almost 4 years, the voluntary body attached to Regent House, Newtownards. I am a Mum of two teens with my youngest in Year 12. I realised the transition from primary to post primary isn’t always easy for parents and thought it would be an opportune time to get involved. I love the warm school/community environment we have, and strongly believe FORH plays a pivotal role in that relationship developing process.

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