Following on from a successful pilot project with students at Plymouth Marjon University, Soroptimist Ann Keelan applied for a grant from the National Lottery to roll out the provision of period pants to women in Plymouth who access various services.
Ann successfully secured £10,000 from the National Lottery to provide ‘period pants’ to women who are abuse survivors, care experienced, recovering from addiction, ex-offenders, or struggling with debt and homelessness.
Over 300 women will be provided with six pairs of period pants. This scheme aims to tackle period poverty, simply defined as being unable to afford sanitary protection products when you need them, in an environmentally sustainable way.
In January Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth Moor View, met with Plymouth Soroptimists on Plymouth Hoe to present a giant £10,000 cheque from the National Lottery . Mr Mercer has run the Plymouth Half Marathon every year since being elected in 2015 for the main distribution partner of the scheme, Trevi.
Plymouth Soroptimists report that more than one in three girls aged 14-21 in the UK (i.e. over a million girls) have struggled to afford or access menstrual products at some point and 137,700 girls have missed school in the previous year because of period poverty. Furthermore, mainstream sanitary products are about 90 percent plastic and non-biodegradable, taking as long as 800 years to decompose.
Despite the Government abolishing VAT on period products from January 1, 2024, period poverty remains a significant barrier to many women, hence the importance of the National Lottery funding. Plymouth Soroptimists ‘Pants to Period Poverty’ campaign aims to provide a practical solution to both of these serious issues in Plymouth with the distribution of free pants to women in the city via partner organisations.
Soroptimist and campaign leader Ann Keelan added: “We’re absolutely delighted that we’re going to be able to help so many women who struggle to pay for period products, while at the same time encouraging a sustainable long-term solution to end the use of disposable pads and tampons. We are extremely grateful to national lottery players who have made this initiative possible.”
Mr Mercer said: “I pay tribute to the incredible work that the Plymouth Soroptimists do across our City. No woman should have to worry about access to menstrual products. Thanks to the National Lottery funding, they will make a positive difference to the lives of over 300 women in Plymouth.”