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All Schools Will Have Free Period Products From Monday

Nick Levine

Period products will be made freely available in all English schools and colleges starting from Monday, the Department for Education has said.

The good news comes after the government stepped up its commitment to ending period poverty last year by forming a taskforce to combat the problem.

The taskforce was co-chaired by Plan International UK, the children’s charity which highlighted the extent of the problem with a 2017 study which found that one in 10 young people have been unable to afford sanitary products.

The study found that a similar number of young people have had to “improvise” their sanitary wear by using items like socks, T-shirts or tissue paper.

Last year, a young woman studying at the University of the West of England also drew attention to the problem by using £100 of her student loan to provide free tampons for her fellow students.

Children and families minister Michelle Donelan said of the new scheme, which will be rolled out in English state-funded schools and colleges from next week: “We know that it is not easy for everyone to access period products where and when they need them.

“This scheme will deal with those problems so young people can go about their daily lives without getting caught out if they have come on their period unexpectedly, forgotten to bring products with them or if they can’t afford the products they need.”

The Welsh government has already made a similar move to tackle period poverty by making sanitary products freely available in schools last year. The Scottish government led the way in 2018, making sanitary products available free to all pupils to help “banish the scourge of period poverty”.

Free Periods, the organisation set up by campaigner Amika George to end period poverty in schools, said they were “absolutely thrilled” by the government’s announcement extending this scheme into England.

“Having access to free period products in school can have a huge impact on a young person’s ability to participate in their education, and so to reach their full potential,” they added.

“For some, this new scheme may mean the difference between attending school or staying at home when they have their period.”

Free Periods also urged all schools and colleges in England to act swiftly, saying: “We need every eligible institution to use its allocated funding and make period products freely available to their students as soon as possible.”

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