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period poverty

The Homeless Period Dublin initiative was born in December 2016. Their goal is to help women and girls who found themselves unable access to basic sanitation and female hygiene products every month.

Claire Hunt took over the general management of the Homeless Period Dublin initiative in 2017. A social media campaign was launched to highlight this issue; through this campaign it became apparent that this was a national issue. Emanating from this campaign, a decision was made to rebrand the initiative to Homeless Period Ireland (HPI). 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HomelessPeriodIreland (@homelessperiodireland) on

This rebranding would help create awareness nationally and more importantly, increase the number of drop off points (places where the general public donate female sanitary and hygiene products) and more importantly, increase reach nationally to front line services who have direct access to the women in need.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HomelessPeriodIreland (@homelessperiodireland) on

The aim of the Homeless Period Ireland is to donate feminine hygiene products (pads, tampons, liners, wipes) to those who otherwise would go without. The donations are brought by volunteer drivers to Homeless Outreach Centres, Direct Provision Centres and Women’s Refuges. The HPI is an initiative, not a charity and is 100 percent reliant on volunteers for distribution and collection of sanitary products.

The core objectives of the Homeless Period Ireland include:

  • breaking the stigma surrounding menstruation

  • educating people on the basic hygiene needs of women

  • educating people that periods are a monthly expense

  • encouraging people to purchase sanitary products and gift them through various pre-arranged donation points

  • ensuring that every woman in Ireland has access to sanitary products.

The Homeless Period Ireland has numerous drop-off points, such as:  

Tropical Popical, Waxperts, UCD, UL, IADT, Bella Baby, National Maternity Hospital.  An up-to-date list of drop off points can be found on their Facebook and Twitter pages. 

We would love to see more nationwide drop off points and anyone who can set one up in a shop, or business etc can drop an email to thehomelessperioddublin@gmail.com

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Homeless Period Ireland hopes to educate people about period poverty and the “silent struggle” of many women living in Ireland, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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HPI want the government to take action as Scotland did this year with the introduction of a scheme that gives free sanitary products to women in need.

On March 13, 2017, for the first time in history, an all female cross party motion on period poverty was passed in the Dail. This included a call for free period products in public buildings and most importantly improving education and working to normalise periods. 

This is a step in the right direction but the work of Homeless Period Ireland will still continue as many people in need will still experience period poverty. Young carers, women and girls in Direct Provision, homeless women, low income women reliant on food banks. They will continue to feel the stress and discomfort that is endured when having a period in difficult circumstances. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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“When we all have access to period products only then will we end period poverty” 

“Periods happen every month and unless you are experiencing it, it’s not at the forefront of people’s minds” 

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By Amy Donohoe

Research has found nearly half of teenage girls across Ireland are struggling to afford sanitary products during their period.

According to Plan International, out of over 1,100 young women aged between 12-19, nearly 50 per cent of Irish teenage girls find it difficult to afford sanitary products. Young girls even feel the need to hide her period from their family and friends.

Some of the young women said that they were forced to use a “less suitable sanitary product” such as tissues, cotton wool, doubling up on underwear or wearing a pad/ tampon for an exceeded amount of time because of the high monthly cost involved.

Reusable products aren’t sufficient and they’re not necessarily hygienic either. Pads and tampons are necessities but are still seen as luxury.

Nearly 60 per cent of young women said they did not find classes at school on periods helpful while six out of ten reported feeling embarrassed about their period.

A small number said they believed they could lose their virginity by using a tampon, while others did not think it was possible to become pregnant while on their period. 61 per cent of Irish girls have missed school because of their period and more than 80 per cent said they didn’t feel comfortable talking about their periods with their father or a teacher.

Nearly 70 per cent take some form of pain relief during menstruation.

Chief Executive Plan International Ireland Paul O’Brien said he hoped the study into young women’s views on their periods would help remove the stigma and shame associated with the natural female bodily function.

'We want girls to know it is OK to talk about their period- especially if half of the girls Plan International Ireland spoke to nationwide cannot afford products for their periods,' he said.

Alesha Dixon, an Always ambassador, said: 'The more awareness we can raise about this issue, the more we can help to remove the shame girls feel in talking about it. Puberty is a hard enough time to navigate without feeling embarrassed about not being able to afford essential sanitary products and no girl today should experience that.'

Scotland became the first country in the world to provide free sanitary products to women from low-income households in 2017, and from this month onwards it will become the first to make sanitary products easily accessible to those at school or university.

The 2016 film I, Daniel Blake, which features a woman in poverty stealing tampons, highlighting the issue of the price of sanitary products and it helped inspire Scotland’s pilot scheme.

In Ireland, pads can cost anywhere between €2.00 and €6.00 a pack with the average pack containing 10-15 pads. Tampons range in price from about €1.50 to €6.00 a pack.

A 12 pack of Nurofen painkillers costs €4.20. It will cost a woman with 13 periods a year €132.34 (approximately) for sanitary products per year.

Women who are homeless, in emergency accommodation, or struggling to feed themselves and their family unfortunately have to make a decision between buying tampons or food.

Image: The Homeless Period

Although shelters get an allowance from the Government every year to buy items like condoms, there’s still nothing for sanitary products, and that’s the same with Irish Universities.

Women who can’t afford sanitary products are left to go to public bathrooms to improvise.

The Homeless Period encourages people to donate sanitary products to homeless women.

'At present, there are over 1000 women sleeping on the streets of Dublin alone, and countless others who are living in emergency accommodation or in extreme financial strain at home. These women deserve the same basic level of hygiene each month that the majority can afford,'' Petra Hanlon of the Homeless Period said. '

'The Homeless Period Dublin is an important initiative to not only bring donations of sanitary products to those in need, but also to break down the taboo surrounding periods and to educate that this is a monthly basic hygiene need and expense for all women,'' she added.

In Dublin, you can currently drop your donation off at any Simon Community shop or centre, in Smithfield in the Market Pharmacy, in An Siol Community Development Project on Manor Street or Tropical Popical on South William Street.

Many women everyday get caught short and have received their period unexpectedly. Whether it’s awkwardly running to the shop to get emergency supplies or having to improvise, it happens. It could be an idea for businesses to buy supplies from wholesalers and supply something for their female staff.

It’s often wondered how much companies could save if they stopped providing other perks, such as free tea and coffee. But we don’t need free tea and coffee.

You won’t have an embarrassing accident without tea or coffee. Similarly, not everyone needs female sanitary products but not everyone takes advantage of the free drinks in offices.

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Once a month us women have to endure the utter joy that is the period. Cramps, bleeding, headaches, tender boobs, backache and acne are just some of the things we have to cope with during our ‘time of the month’.

Many women will spot little signs that warns them their period is on the way, whether that’s feeling extremely emotional or suffering a massive breakout on your chin.

We gorge on as much chocolate as we want, dose ourselves up with Feminax and rush to the local Boots to make sure our sanitary product supply is well stocked up.

I’m sure we’ve all had that moment of dread when you’re out in public and your period decides to surprise you by making an unexpected appearance.

You have no tampons or pads in your bag, but luckily there’s a pharmacy on practically every street in Ireland so all you have to do is pop in and pick up some supplies.

To many, it isn’t a major purchase, but to 50 percent of Irish women sanitary products are a mass expense.

In a study conducted by Plan International, nearly 10 percent of participants admitted they have had no choice but to use a “less than suitable sanitary product” because of the cost.

There are girls as young as 12-years-old struggling to buy pads once a month, something that shouldn’t be happening in 2018.

In recent years, the women of Ireland have proved that together we can make a difference. We no longer underestimate our power, our strength and determination to make this country a better place for women.

There are so many things you can do to help tackle period poverty in Ireland.

1: Normalise periods:

For years, women have been too ashamed to talk about their period, even though it’s a completely natural thing that nearly every woman will experience at some point in her life. We mutter phrases like, “I have my thing,” or “It’s just a girly problem,” as we avoid eye-contact and blush with embarrassment. It’s time for us to realise that simply saying: “I have my period,” is perfectly acceptable.

2: Make a donation to Homeless Period Ireland

The wonderful people at Homeless Period Ireland are trying their best to supply homeless women with sanitary products, however, they can’t do it without the public’s generosity. A packet of pads cost less than the iced white chocolate mocha you buy, so why not cut back on your daily jaunts to Starbucks and purchase some sanitary products with that money instead. There are numerous donation drop off points all around Ireland, including Cork, Limerick and Dublin. See below for the full list of drop off points and donate sanitary supplies to your fellow sisters today.

3: Sign this petition to end period poverty in Ireland:

Too many women have to suffer through their time of the month without any sanitary products or a place to shower. Susan Colgan has launched a petition to introduce free sanitary products in Ireland.

She explained why we need free sanitary products: “Toilet paper is given out for free in almost every establishment nationwide. You wouldn't be expected to keep your own roll of toilet paper in your handbag when you go out to a nightclub, a restaurant or the cinema. It's always provided for you.”

She continued: “This is because it is considered a necessity, it would be morally wrong and unhygienic not to provide it, free of charge. This is the exact same thing when it comes to menstruation. It is not a choice.”

To sign the Free Sanitary Products in Ireland petition click here.

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In response to a campaign led by Central Scotland Labour MSP, Monica Lennon, it has been announced that Glasgow Airport will be providing their passengers with sanitary products, free of charge.

Monica's campaign to end period poverty has been supported by authorities at the Scottish airport, who will be leaving free tampons and pads in toilets within the main check-in hall and in arrival halls.

Commenting on the progressive move, Glasgow Airport managing director, Amanda McMillan, explained that a meeting with Monica Lennon earlier this year led to the decision.

"We met with Monica earlier this year and she highlighted the need to address what is a real issue for many women."

"Millions of passengers travel through our doors on an annual basis and this trial will ensure that our female customers have access to these essential products."

Commending the airport's move, Monica reiterated the importance of the campaign, and the impact it has on those in need.

"Providing free sanitary products at the airport sends out a strong message that periods are normal and I know this will be appreciated by passengers" she asserted.

"Getting your period can happen unexpectedly and often at inopportune times – at work, at school, and when you’re travelling," she continued.

"No-one should have to go without access to vital sanitary products, so it’s great that Glasgow Airport are leading by example on this issue so it's great that Glasgow Airport are leading by example on this issue."

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You may know Tropical Popical for their intricate nail designs, eclectic nail bar and penchant for Lilt.

While creating bespoke nail art for the masses is their priority, the women behind TropPop stand for a lot more than well-groomed cuticles. 

As well as showing their support for the Repeal Project, Tropical Popical have turned their attention to the issue of period poverty. 

It may not be something that immediately crosses your mind when you consider the day-to-day struggles of homeless women, but period poverty is a big issue. 

Women residing on the streets or in shelters are often left without any options when it comes to managing their periods. 

As pointed out by Tropical Popical via a recent Instagram post: 'Whenever you get your period, think of the women experiencing #PeriodPoverty and pop an extra pack of tampons or pads or mooncups in your basket.'

'We always have a #HomelessPeriodDublin drop off point on the go and as women get their period every month (yes, we did biology in the leaving), there's a constant need for sanitary products.'

The fantastic initiative will change the quality of life for homeless women, so when you head to Boots this month to pick up your sanitary product of choice, make sure you duplicate your usual purchase and donate to TropPop's drop off point. 

You can find their innovative nail bar at 28 South William Street, Dublin.

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