There are currently 600,000 Greater Manchester residents experiencing the effects of extreme poverty, many of them of course, have a menstrual cycle. Alarmingly, menstrual products are unavailable under the NHS and food-banks receive little donations of the products. The results are harrowing, with those affected being forced to use old socks and newspaper to manage their periods. Thankfully, one girl has a solution, and it's pretty simple:
Designed to help without judgement, Rosy Candlin has started Every Month, a non-profit organization aiming to make period products easily available for everyone experiencing poverty in Manchester, her and her team of volunteers create Period Packs funded my public donations and distribute them throughout the city. We caught up with Rosy to discuss her project and to find out how we can help.
"It is important that we don't specify that it is women that we help, as many trans men also experience poverty and still menstruate. The only prerequisites to getting an EM Pack are that a person menstruates and can't afford sanitary products. That is it. Period." - Rosy Candlin
What gave you the idea?
I got the idea for the campaign around the time of the tampon tax debate, and I learned that they weren't available on the NHS. It was so insane to me that some people didn't class them as necessary items, and that this was being reflected in VAT law. From learning more about this I began looking into what systems were in place for people who are experiencing poverty in the UK. I assumed it would be much like contraceptives, that people could access them for free from a GP, but that isn't the case. That is when I decided to start Every Month.
What's inside an EM period pack?
Inside the packs at the moment there are 10 tampons, 10 sanitary towels and a hot chocolate sachet. However we are working with a medical practice that works with people who are homeless, and we have 100 packs containing menstrual cups to be distributed by them.
How are they distributed?
At the moment the packs are distributed through local food banks and charities, and I think that will continue to be the case for a while.
How many are currently being distributed?
At the moment we are producing 250 packs a month, however we would love for this to increase!!!!
Are you hoping to develop the campaign in other cities?
The campaign is being developed in South East London in the coming weeks, their Instagram is @everymonthSE.
You rely on public donations to help create and distribute the packs, how can we donate and how far can one donation go?
Each pack costs £1.17 to produce. We mainly rely on monetary donations because we can buy more for our money when we buy in bulk. These monetary donations are made through our website, which has a link to our GoFundMe page. The PDF attachment has a breakdown of costs included.
In your opinion, why has there been such lack of care towards the sanitary health of women living rough? Society still sadly discriminates women over something natural they cannot control.
I think that society is conditioned to feel uncomfortable discussing menstruation and this creates a culture that chooses to ignore those who menstruate. The result of this, unfortunately, is that the government fails to provide sanitary products through the NHS because it isn't something that people are vocal about. It is also a reflection of undeniable systemic sexism and class-ism.
To find out more about Every Month, download your very own Supporters Guide.You can also help Rosy make the packets on the18th of Nov for their first collaboration event; PACKS.