Having your period is bloody annoying (easy pun, I couldn’t resist, I do apologise). Even with all the feminine supplies, duvets, funny movies, hot water bottles and chocolate one can moderate, whilst still going about your business, it’s a pain. So imagine how much worse it is for homeless women who may not have the basic supplies of towels or tampons, or facilities to change these in regularly. It makes that time of a month, not just an inevitable nuisance, but a dread of humiliation, depression and possible danger.
Recently I came across a site called abloodygoodcause.wordpress.com, it is an initiative started to collect sanitary products and deliver them to homeless shelters.
The women that set up this initiative, Sanya Masood and Sophie Harrold, took action upon being inspired by The Homeless Period campaign.
The Homeless Period campaign, an initiative set up with the rightful belief that tampons and towels should be available readily in homeless shelters, the same way the government provides condoms. Over at Thehomelessperiod.com site, they have a petition which you can sign to pledge your support. The petition has reached it’s 100,000 signature goal and is now waiting for an MP to take it to parliament.
(You can read more about A Bloody Good Cause and their success over at their site, or on Twitter @ABloodyGC. Or search #Thehomelessperiod to check out their work.)
For most countries the government gives an allowance to shelters to provide razors and condoms, but not feminine hygiene products. As it’s seen as a luxury, most shelters rely on donations of sanitary products.
As periods are still somewhat taboo, yes there is a modern movement aiming to abolish the stigma associated with menstruating but that should be woman’s choice whether she proudly lets the blood flow free, it should not be because she has no other choice. Homeless women are often left to tear up rags, use tissues or even newspapers to try and maintain their discretion. Which do not work sufficiently.
What can we do to help?
There’s another charity called Helping Handbags Worldwide (https://www.helpinghandbagsworldwide.com) which “urge women to raid their cupboards and closets, find an old bag (could be new) and fill it up with sanitary and hygiene products to be then passed on to a homeless woman over Christmas.”
This organisation was set up by a lady named Brenda Dempsey, a successful entrepreneur, who was homeless in the past so experienced this struggle first hand.
There are lots of coordinators around the UK and Ireland to get in touch with if you want to contribute, I look forward to contributing to when I get back to Ireland. I also don’t see a problem with going rogue and compiling a bag to give directly to homeless women in your area, where possible. Helping Handbags give great suggestions of items to include, shown above. A lot of the items contributed to centres, primarily the women’s hygiene products are often over looked.
For readers in Ireland, some stores like Tesco, Dunnes and Boots often offer tampons at a largely discounted rate, or their own brands are often very cheap. Take advantage of that next time you’re stocking up and buy some for those in need. As I learned from another initiative, based in Ireland, Compassion For Homeless Women Initiative (@womenneedtowels), you can drop them into you local Simon Community. I recently saw some friends on Facebook posting about contributing, which is awesome that they are helping and raising awareness at the same time.
There are similar charities and initiatives in lots of different countries which you can contribute to. If you can’t find any I’m sure your local homeless shelters or woman’s shelter would be happy for an individual donation.
Since it’s the season of giving and all, it’s a small thing to give but can make a big difference to a woman’s mental and physical well-being. And unfortunately, a period is for life and not just for Christmas. Well, maybe not fully for life, the change and all that, but the point is Christmas doesn’t have to be the only time for giving, this is a valued gift year round and I think it’s a great cause to contribute to.
Author: Shaunna Lee Lynch
About: I am an Irish writer, performer, avid day dreamer, generally enthusiastic, hip hop enthusiast,living in Hong Kong.
Get me on the Gram: @Shaunnaleelynch
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