Case study: Period poverty


SOUTH HETTON PRIMARY SCHOOL, DURHAM

The class teacher provided the children with four images depicting different social and environmental problems including an image of a sign on cardboard saying 'food or tampons?' highlighting the issue of the #homelessperiod Children were also asked to contribute their own ideas about any other social or environmental issues they felt the class could 'make a difference' to. The class then narrowed down the long list of ideas to the top four choices and used the weighted voting method to select their final project idea which was period problems and poverty.

WHAT WE DID

Pupils started out by carrying out some research into the issue to find out whether their parents were aware of the problem of access to sanitary products for women on low incomes, and if they realised that sanitary products are considered luxury items and taxed as such. When the surveys were returned, the children analysed the results, comparing responses of men and women of different ages. Pupils also researched how many women were homeless in the north east and what charities were already doing to support them.

As a result of their research, the children decided the best way to help address the problem would be to create 'Pants Packs' containing sanitary items to donate to their local foodbank and homeless shelters. The children created a logo for their campaign which they used on posters and leaflets sent out asking for donations of wet wipes, hand sanitizer, tampons and sanitary towels to create their packs. The children set up donation stations in the local doctor's surgery, church and local shops and wrote letters to supermarkets asking for their support.

The children were visited by a volunteer from the Peterlee Food Bank who explained where the children's donations would be going and why they were needed. The children wrote poems to express how it would feel to be homeless and having to deal with the additional pain, discomfort and embarrassment of having a period with no access to proper sanitary protection. To raise awareness of the issue of periods and poverty, and where people could donate sanitary items, some of the children were also interviewed on Heart Radio.

The children received a huge number of donations and support for their campaign from the community by raising awareness of the issue locally. When their teacher shared something on social media about the children's campaign, the project caught the attention of the local MP, Grahame Morris, who submitted an Early Day Motion to the House of Commons and tabled a question for the Minister for Women and Equalities asking if she would take steps to ensure provision of free sanitary products to low income families. The donation stations set up during the project will continue to collect items for Peterlee Foodbank so the project is set to continue long after the Year 6 children have left the school. In terms of the impact on the children's learning and personal development, class teacher, Tamsin Hill, felt the project had helped the children to understand and empathise with women struggling to find the money to pay for sanitary protection. The children also grew in confidence and maturity as they tackled the stigma of talking about periods; one boy in particular, who was often quite disengaged in class, showed an incredibly mature attitude during the project and played a leading role in the campaign Local MP Grahame Morris said "The students of South Hetton Primary should be immensely proud of the positive impact they have had in their local community. The pupils demonstrated remarkable maturity and social awareness in developing their Period Problems and Poverty campaign. South Hetton Primary school's campaign has been taken up nationally and I hope it will inspire others to participate in the Make a Difference Challenge."

WHAT PEOPLE SAID

  • As a boy, I have never thought of periods and poverty - Pupil
  • The pupils demonstrated remarkable maturity and social awareness - Grahame Morris MP
  • People shouldn't be uncomfortable talking about periods - Pupil


MORE INFORMATION

Did you know that the average cost of periods in the UK over a year is £500, which many women cannot afford? Watch South Hetton Primary School making a difference in the House of Commons

Published: Sep 2018

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