Councillors in Grimsby have approved plans to provide sanitary wear to schools, colleges and council facilities for free in a bid to tackle period poverty.
Councillors have agreed to ‘lead by example’ in helping to tackle period poverty in North East Lincolnshire.
A motion to North East Lincolnshire’s Full Council by Labour Councillor Gemma Sheridan said young women were using items such as socks, toilet roll and fast-foot restaurant napkins, in place of sanitary products and called for more to be done.
Councillor Sheridan said she had already been contacted by a charity that does ‘fantastic work to support our girls’ by providing boxes of free products in schools.
She also took the opportunity to criticise the VAT on sanitary products, which are currently classed as luxuries, adding: “I don’t think I’d ever describe my period as a luxury. I don’t think any woman would.”
Councillor Sheridan said some were spending more than £10,000 on sanitary products over their lifetime and blamed Universal Credit and the stagnation of wages.
She was backed by fellow labour Councillor Karl Wilson who said more than 14,000 people were claiming housing benefit in North East Lincolnshire with up to 27 per cent of children living in poverty.
“Period poverty is real and it is here, make no mistake about that,” he said, adding that he believed the motion should cover more than just sanitary products – including medication such as Ibuprofen and paracetamol.
Labour Councillor Chris Nichols said: “I think we can agree that one girl who misses even one day off school because of period poverty, shame and embarrassment is one girl too many.”
Conservative Councillor James Cairns also supported the motion, however, queried how “girls can afford iPhones and all the costs associated with them, but not be able to afford tampons. Surely it’s a matter of priority?”
Fellow Councillor Lia Nici called for more education, information and advice to be offered to young women from age 10 onwards.
However she queried the £10,000 figure, equating that to £21 a month and said: “I’m not quite sure how much they are spending, they must be buying gold-plated sanitary products, because to spend £21 a month I would find impossible.
“You can buy products for as low as 95p, you would struggle to spend more than £3 a month on products.”
Councillor Sheridan responded by reminding members that women have a variety of different periods, with some longer, or heavier than others.
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