How you can help reduce period poverty in the UK

A government scheme to fight period poverty in schools was launched in 2021, but less than half of all schools and colleges have opted in. Here’s what you can do to help.

Period poverty is an issue that affects women and girls across the country (and the globe) who are unable to access period products.

1 in 10 students in the UK are unable to afford period products, which has directly lead to 137,000 missed school days.

Since 2020, every state-maintained school and college in England has been able to order free sanitary products for their students, thanks to the work of charities and campaigns such as the Free Periods campaign and Bloody Good Period charity.

However, as of January 2021, less than half of schools and colleges have opted-in to this scheme. This is particularly worrying due to the detrimental financial affects the pandemic has had on low-income families.

So, how can you help boost those numbers and spread awareness? We’ve the run down below.

Where is the scheme least active?

Schools and colleges in the UK have started to get involved in the scheme, but participation numbers have not been totally unanimous across the board.

The disparity is regional, affecting students in the North-East most, with participation in the scheme as low as 28% in Hartlepool, followed by Yorkshire, the South East and the South West, which have all seen regional uptake of 46% or below.

It is absolutely vital to get more schools and colleges on board in order to reduce this gap and ensure all students who need it can access sanitary products.

How you can get involved and help

What’s causing these low numbers? According to the director of Free Periods, Gemma Abbott, ‘many schools and students [are] still not aware’ that they can access free sanitary products for their school.

The Free Periods campaign is encouraging young people to contact their schools and colleges to push them to opt-in to this important scheme and help tackle period poverty in England.

The group, started by Amika George, has provided a template which can be downloaded and emailed to schools and colleges to highlight the scheme to them. Informing schools and colleges about the scheme is hugely important in taking a step towards ending period poverty and ensuring no one has to miss school because of it.

Spread the word! Social media is the best way to highlight the scheme to other students and organisations, as well as destigmatise period poverty.

Organisations such as Free Periods, the Red Box Project, and Bloody Good Period have social media pages full of informative posts and graphics that can be shared to raise awareness of period poverty and the government scheme.

What about those outside of schooling?

You should also consider donating to other causes and organisations. Although the government scheme supports students in schools, there are many other people who suffer from period poverty.

Schemes such as ‘Buy One Give One’ donate period products for every product bought, and many charities accept donations of sanitary items, which they then distribute to refugees, low-income families, those living on the streets and others in need.

Due to the pandemic many charities are not accepting sanitary products currently, but do accept cash donations. There are always ways to contribute, even during these turbulent and difficult times.

Here’s hoping we can work to eradicate period poverty from the UK entirely – anything is possible when everyone gets involved.


This article was originally written by Georgie Morley. ‘I’m Georgie and I’m currently studying History at the University of Oxford. I am passionate about social change, particularly intersectional feminism and climate justice, and I enjoy engaging in these issues through volunteering, campaigning and writing.’ Visit her LinkedIn and view her Twitter.


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