Period poverty has become a very prominent issue lately, and although this is something many have experienced for decades, only now is society recognising this problem. The children’s charity, Plan International UK, has reported that one in 10 young women, aged 14 to 21, have been unable to afford period products at one time, and in London, this rises to almost one in seven.

That means that during some of the most important times of their lives, many female students are suffering at least once a month. Daisy Wakefield, a Drawing and Print student at the University of West England, took note. After approaching university representatives to no avail, Daisy took matters into her own hands.

Using £100 of her student loan, Daisy created 40 boxes of tampons, designing the eye-catching boxes herself, filling the boxes with tampons herself, and distributing them on campus herself.

After many emails saying ‘I’ll get back to you’ or ‘I’m not sure’, I’m tired of @uwebristol not addressing the crisis that is period poverty in the UK. Therefore, I, Daisy Wakefield have been forced to take matters into my own hands by supplying FREE sanitary products on all @uwebristol campuses.”

Daisy Wakefield

In response, UWE stated, “Period poverty is a global issue and we’re pleased UWE Bristol students are passionately advocating for change. The university does not currently supply free sanitary products on campus, though we would be pleased to meet with students to understand if there is an emerging need for this.”

Daisy pointed out that some universities, such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Exeter already have provisions in place for students requiring help procuring sanitary protection, and demanded that UWE take steps to do the same.

Her actions have gained Daisy national media attention, praise and offers of help. But Daisy wrote on her Instagram:

” I have had a lot of people contact me offering to donate money/sanitary products for my campaign, which I am extremely grateful for. However, I have had a long think and as much as I would love to continue supplying free sanitary products for UWE students, it is still a short-term solution for a long-term problem. @uwebristol NEED to now take initiative and recognise from the response this campaign has got that people are in need and @uwebristol students would be eternally grateful for their support. Also, the sad reality is I will no longer be a UWE student after July, so I won’t even be able to supply them even if I wanted to. Therefore, I am urgently asking everyone to work together to get @uwebristol to step up ASAP by contacting/calling/emailing/tagging them until they show signs of preventing period poverty. Also if you feel inspired please contact your university/workplace/local MP and ask what they are doing to help prevent period poverty (for a lot of people just opening up the conversation can really make positive change). Additionally, there are some amazing charities out there preventing period poverty such as; @bloodygoodperiod@everymonthmcr@nomoretaboo@theredboxprojectuk@freedom4girls and many more who would all be extremely grateful for your generosity. Thank you all once again, I am so so grateful for all your support 💛 “

Boxes of tampons designed, constructed and distributed by UWE student Daisy Wakefield
Boxes of tampons designed, constructed, and distributed by UWE student Daisy Wakefield

In his Spring Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that from September, a government scheme would be available to provide free sanitary products in secondary schools. As yet, no such scheme is planned for universities, where young women are already learning to manage their finances, usually on a very tight budget of a student loan, while also dealing with the myriad of other new adult life skills. Since 2015, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of students reporting serious mental health issues, which many reports suggest are due to the increasing pressures placed on students. The ability to afford sanitary products should not be another pressure we place on young adults learning to navigate the world. At a time when girls are missing school because they cannot afford protection, we can’t risk our undergraduates facing the same dilemma.

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