It is estimated that periods costs the average British woman almost £500 a year. For those living on or below the breadline, sanitary products are often the first of the essentials to go. That does not, however, make them any less essential. People living in poverty resort to using toilet paper, fabric scraps or nothing at all to avoid the burden of buying sanitary pads and tampons.
A solution to this problem has presented itself in the form of a small organisation called Bloody Good Period. Based in London and founded by Gabby Edlin, Bloody Good Period provides asylum seeker drop-in centres, food banks and emergency relief efforts, such as after the Grenfell fire last June, with sanitary products and other toiletries to help those who are going without. The charity is currently a project of the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action (CIVA) and makes regular donations to two drop-in centres in North London.
Bloody Good Period is committed to keeping its work sustainable and ethical. When it comes to mounting pressures for the group to give out menstrual cups and other more environmentally friendly products in place of non-reusable methods, the charity is insistent that a person’s choice in “period paraphernalia” should be free from judgement. That said, Bloody Good Period are currently working closely with The Cup Effect, to educate about the benefits of reusable menstrual cups. This involves The Cup Effect running confidence boosting cupaware sessions at the drop-ins that Bloody Good Period currently contributes to. For those who want to avoid big brands, donations can be made via an ethical online supermarket (ethicalsuperstore.com), which stock biodegradable and organic pads.
As well as serving communities in London and elsewhere in the UK, Bloody Good Period is also challenging taboos surrounding periods. When founder Gabby first began volunteering at a drop-in centre, period products were tucked under the table “in case of emergencies”. As many people know, a period without the right products is always an emergency. Nowadays, sanitary products are placed out in the open at the drop-ins, breaking taboos and making it easier for women in need to find the necessary products. The charity also takes to its Instagram to share #BloodyGoodCreatives – artwork created by its supporters that feature menstruation in a refreshingly positive light.
The cost of menstrual products has received more attention over the last few years, as the so-called tampon tax sees sanitary products classed as luxury goods – a concept that seems like a big joke to anyone who menstruates. In April 2018 it is expected that legislation to eliminate tampon VAT in the UK will come into effect, though this will only slightly decrease the financial burden for those struggling.
Organise a collection in your community today by finding more information at bloodygoodperiod.com or sending sanitary towels and other toiletries (including things for non-menstruators like nappies, toothbrushes and deodorant) to BloodyGoodPeriod, c/o SafeStore, Alexander Palace Way, London N8 7HP.