Retabled motion for free sanitary products at Mid and East Antrim Council sites

A survey is being carried out among schoolchildren ahead of a pilot scheme to provide period products in Northern Ireland schools from the start of the new academic year in September.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 2:30 pm

The survey is being carried out by CCEA to find out more about the extent of period poverty among pupils.

It is open to children in primary and post-primary schools and students in further education colleges and staff.

CCEA wants to hear from everyone who has been affected by period poverty, directly and indirectly with questions focused on the cost of period products, accessibility and “related shame, stigma and taboo”.

Sanitary products.
Sanitary products.

An Alliance motion is to be retabled at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council after a previous request by the party asking for sanitary products to be made available in council facilities free of charge was defeated.

In a comment on social media, Carrickfergus Alliance Councillor Lauren Gray said: “Shocker, women have periods. It’s time to end the stigma and make products visible across our borough. Well that’s the aim and why Cllr O’Lynn and I have retabled our motion calling for just that.”

Cllr Gray said that the motion had been about “changing mindsets” by making period products “as visible as possible” and to “give girls a safe space to access products if they need to”.

“Period poverty is a very real challenge facing many girls and women in the UK.  Those experiencing period poverty are unable to access menstruation products due to financial constraints,” party colleague Councillor Patricia O’Lynn stated previously.

Cllr Lauren Gray

She said that according to children’s charity, Plan International, one in 10 females are unable to afford menstruation products at some time in their life. She reported that 40 per cent of girls and women have had to use toilet roll, socks or plastic bags instead.

However, a DUP amendment said that the council would recognise the work undertaken by the Education Minister to “ensure period products were freely available in schools and asked for the Hygiene Bank in Ballymena and Equality Period in Larne to be assisted in securing grants.

In December, then Education Minister Peter Weir announced that period products are to be made freely available to pupils in primary and secondary schools.

The three-year pilot is expected to cost £2.6m and is due to commence in the 2021/22 academic year.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is providing period products free of charge in leisure centre and council-owned community buildings. The provision will be made during a 12-month pilot project at a cost of £3,500.

Meanwhile, Larne Ladies Rugby Football Club is the first sports club in the Larne area to support Equality Period by providing a drop off/donation area in the town.

In a post on social media, Larne Ladies RFC said: “We will promote women’s sport, we will aim to reduce the stigma of menstruation and we will have free supplies of sanitary products for women and girls using the club.

“We are all familiar with the fabulous work completed by the local food banks, but there is a significant shortage of hygiene and sanitary products within the region. This has become very evident during Covid lockdown and Larne RFC has pledged to help.

“We will forward donations for distribution to those persons and families that need help.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter.

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Click hereto read: Equality Period donation drive in Larne

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