Lily Woods, Teacher at Grace Academy, has collected £300 worth of sanitary protection since January in a Period Poverty scheme to help students who may not be able to afford to buy their own.
Working with her local GP’s surgery to collect donations, Lily is helping to raise awareness of the issue that may be affecting young people across the country, offering free sanitary protection to more vulnerable girls who may otherwise miss school during their periods.
Over 2,000 girls in this country are entitled to free school meals, and teacher Lily Woods believes they should also be entitled to free sanitary protection, saying:
“According to a recent survey, one in ten girls in the UK can’t afford sanitary products, and one in fifteen have struggled to afford sanitary wear, so it is vital that we help them to stay in education and have the same opportunities as everyone else.
“As an Academy, we have been getting the message out there to girls that we are here to help. Some people may find it awkward to talk about this, but we have started a dialogue about periods so it’s something our students are not afraid to talk about.
“There are real girls in this country who miss school on a regular basis because they cannot afford sanitary protection, and we need to help them. Being able to be in school empowers women. Periods shouldn’t be a barrier that stops women from having the opportunity to be successful and powerful.”
Caroline Wrigley, the GP at The Grange Medical Centre who is helping Lily collect donations, said:
“The Period Poverty Project came about when Lily and I were chatting a few months ago about her job and what she loved about teaching. However, she then went on to mention her desire to do something to address the Period Poverty issue.
“I was aware of this phenomenon in Third World Countries but had not heard of it occurring in our country. As a mother and a doctor I found it horrifying that teenage girls have to risk their education due to family hardship.
“Throughout the day I mulled over this information and wondered what, as a community, we could do. I joined forces with my Reception Manager and we came up with the idea of a donation box we could set up in the surgery. Our thoughts were that hopefully generous patients and staff could contribute what they were able, and we could hand over the collection to Lily.
“Fantastically we have since made several contributions to Lily, we have included the subject in our “Topic of the Month” corner, added information to our website and discussed the wider issue with our Patient Participation Group.
“The more we can get this message spread the more we can reduce the social and gender inequality which is tainting our education system.”
Principal Anu Monga, added:
“Our students deserve the very best help and support that we can give them to help them reach their full potential. It is not acceptable that some students may not be able to come to school because they don’t have any period protection. We don’t want this to harm their self-esteem and so we are doing all we can to provide the help they need so they can keep on with their studies.”