24 May 2024

Tackling period poverty at Princess Anne Hospital

Alison Boon, a dedicated Urogynaecology Nurse Specialist at Princess Anne Hospital, has joined with Southampton Hospitals Charity to spearhead a wonderful initiative to combat period poverty in Southampton. Period poverty is a significant and often overlooked issue that affects millions of women and girls worldwide. In the UK, it is estimated that more than 137,000 children have missed school due to period poverty.

Alison came to talk to the charity about period poverty and told us she began to take an interest in the issue when she was watching a scene from Ken Loach’s film “I, Daniel Blake,” where a young woman, unable to afford sanitary products, resorts to shoplifting. This moment highlighted the harsh reality faced by many women and girls in the UK.

“I was shocked and moved by that scene. It made me think deeply about the struggles women face when they can’t afford basic necessities like sanitary towels,” Alison explained. This moment of realisation ignited her passion to make a difference. “It was heart-wrenching to think about what homeless women go through during their periods. It’s something most of us take for granted,” she said.

The extent of period poverty in the UK is staggering. According to a survey conducted by Plan International UK, one in ten girls cannot afford menstrual products, causing them to miss school regularly. This startling statistic brought the issue closer to home for Alison. “This isn’t a third world country; this is Britain. It’s horrendous that one in ten girls are missing school because they can’t afford sanitary products,” she emphasised.

Recognising the high footfall of women at Princess Anne Hospital, Alison proposed providing free sanitary products within the hospital. “If one in ten girls are missing school, presumably one in ten women coming for appointments might also struggle to afford sanitary products,” she reasoned.

Thanks to support from the University Hospital Southampton’s Estates team, two machines have now been installed. One in the gynaecology department and another in the outpatients department. These machines, supplied by the eco-friendly company Grace and Green, allow women to discreetly access products as needed.

“This initiative is not just about period poverty; it’s also for women who might be caught off guard by an unexpected period. The charity has been incredible in supporting this project. We wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise.”

This initiative not only alleviates the immediate burden for women in need but also promotes dignity and equality.

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