Education bosses have launched a scheme making period products available to all schools and colleges in England for free.
All state-funded schools and colleges across the country are now able to order a range of products from the phs Group, making period products readily available for all young people when they need them.
This comes following years of campaigning by period poverty groups, including #FreePeriods and the Red Box Foundation.
The groups joined forces in 2019 to challenge the government to comply with its existing obligations under the Equality Act, which states that the government has a legal duty to ensure that all children have equal access to education.
Amika George, founder of period poverty campaign #FreePeriods, said: ‘We have been waiting for this day for a long time!
‘As a grassroots, student-led movement, #FreePeriods has been fighting for every single child in this country to be able to go to school without worrying about their next pad or tampon. For the first time in history, this scheme will ensure that becomes a reality.
‘We ask that schools have open conversations with students about what they need and start signing up to the scheme – no child must miss out. Free products in schools will ensure that every child can learn and be their very best, without periods holding them back.’
Children and families minister Michelle Donelan said the new scheme will help break down stigma and ensure no young person’s education is disrupted by their period:
‘Periods are a normal part of everyday life and we do not want young people missing out on lessons because of them.
‘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.’
Schools and colleges will have received an activation email from the phs Group on January 20 which will enable them to order products for their organisation. A range of products will be available so that institutes will be able to offer a choice to young people, including eco-friendly options.
#FreePeriods has teamed up to with the Red Box Foundation to urge every school and college in England to sign up to the government’s new scheme. A spokesman for the groups said:
‘We are absolutely thrilled that every state-funded school and college in England is able to order free period products for their students.
‘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. For some, this new scheme may mean the difference between attending school or staying at home when they have their period.
‘We have a chance to take a huge step towards greater equality in our education system, but 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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