Inspirational Burnley mum set to become 'period coach' for schoolgirls across East Lancashire
"I think I have found my calling."
Those are the words of Sam Wright, the inspirational Burnley mum of two who singlehandedly launched a project to donate sanitary products to vulnerable girls and women.
Sam launched Project Health and Hygiene after hearing the shocking statistic that 137,700 girls in the UK miss school because they cannot afford or don't have access to essential sanitary product
Along with a team of volunteers and supporters, Sam handed out an incredible 20,000 period 'pamper packs' across the town in a matter of months, starting in September last year.
The project was launched from the BEST Centre sports facility in Hapton, the business Sam has owned and run with her husband Darren for the past decade. Also home to Burnley Gymnastics Club, coaches, children and their parents have all played a role in supporting the project through donations and also by helping to put the packs together.
The packs, funded by a National Lottery grant, contained sanitary products and items such as a body spray, facemask or mini lip gloss, mascara and other items to provide a confidence boost.
It was the heart breaking stories that Sam has heard while handing out the packs, including women having to use newspaper, socks and old t shirts instead of sanitary products, that made her realise how desperate the need is, for both products and education about periods.
‘Period poverty’ means being unable to access sanitary products and having a poor knowledge of menstruation, often due to financial constraints. In the UK, one in 10 girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products, while one in seven have struggled to afford them, according to a representative survey of 1,000 girls and young women aged 14-21 by Plan International UK.
Downcast after she was turned down for a series of grants to move the project forward, Sam refused to give up and came up with the idea of becoming a 'period coach.'
"The need is out there and while I felt gutted about being turned down for the grants I knew I just couldn't give up because this means so much to me," said Sam.
From September, Sam will be going into high schools across East Lancashire, to run workshops showing students how to use sanitary products.
From showing them the practical basics in a series of gender inclusive workshops, Sam will also talk to the students about everything associated with periods... from period pains and skin blemishes to banishing the stigma attached to periods as being something not to be talked about. She will also be going into primary schools to run workshops for year five and six students.
Schools will pay Sam and a portion of the money will go towards buying in sanitary products for women who need them. Well wishers are continuing to support her with donations and fundraising and her friend Amy Woods recently raised £540 by taking part in the Yorkshire Warrior 10k obstacle race.
Sam (33) who is mum to Ella ( eight) and five-year-old Louis has already run a couple of test workshops at The Best Centre, to a very positive response.
She said: "We can't assume that parents will teach their children about periods, for many different reasons.
"Some are just too embarrassed to do it or they believe it's the responsibility of school.
"But it's so important these young girls and women have the information to hand so they know what it happening to their bodies, how to cope with it and to deal with it with confidence and know they can carry on with their lives and whatever activities they are doing."
Along with her new role Sam is also preparing a campaign to lobby the government to make sanitary products free for all females.