Pictured are: Cllr Clive Meredith, Leah Probert of phs Group and Luisa Munro-Morris Head teacher of Bryn Bach Primary and pupils Megan Purkis, Seren Evans and Ella Chidley

All schools in a Welsh county borough will provide free sanitary products to tackle period poverty through washroom services and consumables provider phs Group.

More than 30 coin-free vending machines have now been installed by phs within every secondary school in Blaenau Gwent, dispensing free sanitary products to pupils. In addition, sanitary products have also been provided to primary schools and will be dispensed by teaching staff.

As part of a drive to tackle the issue of period poverty across Wales, the Welsh Government awarded a grant to enable the Blaenau Gwent Council to provide the free products. The Council worked with local schools, the Youth Service, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and other partners including voluntary groups to implement the scheme as well as phs.

Clare Noble, Head of Healthcare at phs, said:

“phs has been engaging with schools, colleges and universities to develop a solution to period poverty which best suits the needs of young people. We have created a new free-vend sanitary machine which can be positioned within washrooms, offering free sanitary products at any time. They are discreet, hygienic and convenient, saving young girls the potential embarrassment of having to go and ask for products which they may not be inclined to do.

“After being extensively trialled within schools, we’re confident free-vend machines are the most accessible, convenient way of tackling period poverty. Blaenau Gwent has taken a comprehensive, hands-on approach to period equity which we are sure will make a real difference.”

Luisa Munro-Morris is the head teacher of Bryn Bach Primary School in Tredegar and thinks the scheme is a great idea.

She said: “We were absolutely delighted when the Council got in touch to offer us the scheme. Period equity can seem like a taboo subject, but it is important that we support our young people in a variety of ways by offering free products but also by talking about the issue so that we can remove any stigma and embarrassment about having periods that may hold young people back.”

Blaenau Gwent’s Deputy Youth Mayor Charlotte Clark is also supporting and promoting the scheme and recently helped launch a survey from Aneurin Bevan Health Board to find out the extent of the problem of period equity in the wider community, not just among young people.

Councillor Clive Meredith, Blaenau Gwent Council’s Executive Member for Education said:

“It’s not acceptable that in 2019 some young females are unable to access and use feminine hygiene products, due to financial or other circumstances. This can have a negative impact on a young person’s life, especially in relation to their education and social lives. Thanks to funding from the Welsh Government, we have been able to work in partnership with our schools and Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board to set up this much-needed scheme and I hope it will help to make a difference to our young people.”

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