Inspirational Burnley mum's appeal for businesses and the public to get behind campaign to bring an end to 'period poverty' for vulnerable women and girls
A Burnley mum of two, who singlehandedly launched a project to donate sanitary products to vulnerable girls and women, has made an impassioned plea for support to keep the vital project going.
Sam Wright 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 products.
And last week Sam, along with a team of volunteers and supporters, handed out an incredible 2,500 period 'pamper packs' across the town. The packs, funded by a National Lottery grant, contain sanitary products and items such as a body spray, facemask or mini lip gloss, mascara and other items that will provide a confidence boost.
But the heartbreaking 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, has made her realise how desperate the need is.
And demand is now at an all time high due to lockdown, according to the charity Freedom4Girls, a UK registered charity fighting against period poverty.
‘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.
In March 2017, Freedom4Girls found that students in the UK are missing school because of this issue. The charity provides access to safe menstrual products in Kenya, but their findings revealed that period poverty was an issue that also hit closer to home.
Sam said: "I would like to appeal to Burnley businesses and the public to please get on board with this project.
"We have now reached our target of 2,500 and plan to have an extra 700 out in two weeks time."
Sam, who is working with Burnley Together, Lancashire Women’s Centres, Safenet and Calico has appealed for donations of products to go in the pamper packs including hand creams, shampoos and conditioners, hairsprays, toothpaste, body spray and deordorants, shower gels and intimate wipes. The toileries can either be full or 'mini' size.
She added: "We have had some great people donating things that these girls and women could only wish to want.
"We have managed to fill over 200 bags with the donations we have already recieved but we still need help and even more than ever now."
Primary and high schools in Burnley have received 400 pamper packs and Sam is advising them, and also colleges, how they can order free products which are government funded from January this year.
She said: "It is important that schools take responsibility for the welfare of girls who need these products so desperately."
Sam, who is even preparing to lobby the government to make sanitary products free to all women, also aims to help local universities with pamper packs for students who can't leave their halls of residence due to covid restrictions.
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.
It has also been an opportunity to educate the young gymnasts about the need for a project like this.
Sam, who is 33 and mum to Ella ( eight) and five-year-old Louis said: "This just means so much to me and the support we have received has been fantastic and I would like to thank everyone involved."