'Red Box' period poverty project to expand in South Tyneside to help more women and girls
Town hall chiefs have set out plans to improve access to sanitary products for women and girls in South Tyneside.
The ‘Red Box’ scheme has been running in the borough for, and across the rest of the UK, for several years now, ensuring access to tampons and pads, as well as deodorants and underwear.
And while previously the project has focused on schools, bosses now hope to extend access even further for those who find themselves in need.
“The aspiration is that there will be access to a Red Box at every place where a woman spends her time,” said Chrissy Hardy, a public health practitioner at South Tyneside Council.
“[That way] there’ll be lots of touch points for young women to be able to drop in, because school might not be the right place for them.
“We wanted to provide choice for young women around where they could access a Red Box and the idea is each box is like a fingerprint, depending on the need.
“So in primary schools, the contents of the red box will be very different to gyms and leisure settings – it’s about understanding what your community wants.”
Hardy was speaking at a meeting of the borough council’s People Select Committee on March 30, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
The panel has held several sessions in recent months gathering evidence on poverty in South Tyneside, including a presentation by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck on efforts to secure government funding for school breakfast clubs.
Cllr Anne Hetherington, cabinet member for independence and wellbeing, backed the Red Box scheme, while others pressed for it to be more accessible to women of all ages.
Cllr Pat Hay said: “The red box appeal has been vitally important throughout the borough for our young women.
“But I think period poverty should be across all women, not just young women.
“A lot of our food banks already do that, we have boxes within them where a woman can go in, regardless of age, to pick up sanitary projects.
“It should be for all women, given The crisis and the poverty we’re going through, because we all know as women how expensive those products are.”