Period poverty is an ever-increasing challenge, and its impact is far-reaching. We fund Bloody Good Period to tackle this issue, particularly supporting asylum seekers, refugees, and people that cannot afford period products, alongside education and policy change campaigns.
2.8 million people in the UK are struggling to afford period products. That's one in five people who menstruate. And a 75% increase in the number of people experiencing period poverty from 2022.
Those living in poverty, refugees and people in the asylum system, simply cannot afford period products. This combined with the culture of embarrassment, stigma and shame that exists around this natural, biological process, as well as a lack of knowledge about menstruation and reproductive health, places an incredible strain on those who menstruate.
Period poverty in the UK is becoming an increasingly bigger issue, year on year. As the cost of living crisis impacts more people, and even more household budgets are under pressure, people have to make impossible choices between life’s essentials. And if you have a period, and/or dependents who do, that includes period products.
2.8 million people in the UK are struggling to afford period products. That's one in five people who menstruate. And an increase from 12% in 2022 to 21% in 2023.
As a UK-based charity that fights for menstrual equity and the rights of all people who bleed, we're seeing the ever-increasing issue of period poverty impact our work with community partners across England and Wales. We've partnered with more than 100 organisations around the country, providing period products to those who can’t afford them and menstrual education to those less likely to access them.
Since our inception in 2017, we've never seen such a need for support. This year alone we have distributed 90,000 packs of period products. Due to this unprecedented level of need, we currently have over 80 organisations on our waiting list, whom we do not currently have the resources to help.
Our work has taught us that period poverty isn’t about a lack of access to period products - that’s just one part of the period puzzle. The real issue is much greater. The simple fact of having a period shapes people's participation in their social, professional and personal lives; and restricts their ability to learn, work, exercise and move through public spaces. Periods are a penalty that everyone who menstruates pays with their finances, health, education and work - whatever their income status.
This year alone we have distributed 90,000 packs of period products. Due to this unprecedented level of need, we currently have over 80 organisations on our waiting list.
Everyone who menstruates has a regular, additional cost when caring for their periods and health. Period products are the largest expense - an essential item, not a luxury! And since 2022, the prices for these essential items have increased by up to 57% (The Grocer, 2022). As an organisation that delivers period products to everyone who needs them, we are feeling the impact of these price increases. We've seen a 69%* increase in the price of pads (our most frequently requested product). Whereas a typical order of pads for a community partner (100x packs) cost £130.05 in November 2023, it now costs £219.30 in December 2023: a 69% increase. These price rises have an even more dramatic impact on individuals and households, who cannot access products at wholesale price like we do as an organisation.
The ever-increasing period product prices combined with inflation and the greater cost of other essentials places an exceptional burden on people who menstruate. Action Aid found that 60% of those unable to afford period products had to prioritise food and 48% gas and electricity bills over period products (ActionAid, 2023). No one should have to prioritise between essential household costs and good health and wellbeing.
Being unable to afford period products forces those who menstruate to undertake behaviours that can have far-reaching impacts on people’s health and wellbeing. Almost half of people have used period products for longer than recommended because they couldn’t afford new products. This places people at risk of irritation and infection, and also potentially fatal Toxic Shock Syndrome (Action Aid, 2023).
We also know from the people we work with that period poverty severely impacts a person's confidence and ability to participate fully in society, to devastating effect, having far-reaching consequences on a person’s health, wellbeing and social participation. Often, people who cannot afford products will remove themselves from the workplace and education. We know that 25% of those who menstruate report missing social activities while on their periods (ActionAid, 2023). And, when people do manage to participate in social activities they are often so consumed by a fear of leaking - as they have no products to manage their period - that these negative feelings of shame and self-blaming thoughts begin to take an inevitable toll on their bodies, livelihoods and health outcomes.
Period products are the largest expense (when caring for periods and health) - an essential item, not a luxury! And since 2022, the prices ... have increased by up to 57%.
As more people are unable to afford care for their period, they need access to free and accessible period products. While this menstrual health crisis is taking place, the UK Government has remained silent, resulting in organisations and small charities, like Bloody Good Period, plugging the gap. Now more than ever we need the UK Government to take oversight of this pressing issue, before small charities, community organisations and the NHS are stretched beyond breaking point.
Here at Bloody Good Period, we believe that no one should be at a disadvantage just because they have a period. We know that to make that a reality, period products should be freely available - and they should be accompanied by education, normalisation, practical support and legislation to ensure our society is set up to support periods, the menstrual cycle and menopause. Without these basic rights we cannot expect to eradicate period poverty.