The Council has taken decisive action against period poverty by providing free sanitary products to every schoolgirl in Caerphilly county borough.
The Caerphilly motion regarding period poverty was presented to council by Cllr Elaine Forehead and Cllr James Pritchard in 2018. Cabinet members looked favourably on the proposals and recommended that a task and finish group is established to explore the options of introducing free female sanitary products into secondary schools for those in year 7 to 11.
The Caerphilly Period Dignity Working Party, which included a councillor, a head teacher, secondary school pastoral leaders, youth workers, community workers, healthy schools, a school nurse and secondary school pupils identified the options and actions needed to address the issues around period dignity; from the provision of free sanitary products in our schools, to raising awareness and understanding amongst young males.
We received £13,206 for 2018/19 from the Welsh Government, which has allowed us to supply every secondary school, primary school, youth centre and community centre in the borough with a red box of products.
To raise awareness of this initiative the Council held a design a period dignity logo competition which was open to all pupils of secondary school age and there was a £50 cash first prize. Cllr Marsden , Cabinet Member for Education and Achievement choose the winning entry from Emily Jones, a pupil from Lewis Girls School.
The council has also received a grant to fund two short films highlighting the issue of period dignity. These will be officially launched on 11th June at Blackwood Miners’ Institute at the film festival.
Plans are in place to provide infants schools with boxes next year as the needs of staff members, as well as pupils, were highlighted to the working party.
Cllr Phillipa Marsden, Cabinet Member for Education and Achievement said “It is vital that our young people have access to free feminine hygiene products when required, this cannot be a barrier to them attending school. The task and finish group allowed us to take positive action and to change the narrative from ‘Period Poverty’ to ‘Period Dignity’ to help remove the stigma of periods in schools It also gave us the opportunity to establish a sustainable and consistent approach to providing these essential sanitary products to those in need.
Work is are already underway to examine sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to sanitary protection which supports our plastic free agenda. If we choose this option, we will be the first council in the UK to use the grant on environmentally friendly/plastic free products.”