UCU campaign provides free sanitary products for Newcastle College students

9 October 2018 | last updated: 18 October 2018

Students at Newcastle College will be able to receive free sanitary products discreetly if they cannot afford them, thanks to a new campaign against "period poverty".

The Newcastle College UCU branch said that no student should have to miss college or disrupt their education because they have their period. Sanitary products will be available from student mentors and any student can contact them in confidence.

The sanitary products have been bought by the local branch and staff are also being encouraged to donate products to help support the campaign.

A 2017 survey found that one in 10 young women aged 14-21 had been unable to afford sanitary products. It also discovered that 12% of those surveyed had to improvise sanitary wear and one in five had changed to a less suitable sanitary product due to cost.

Newcastle College UCU branch secretary Anya Cook said:  'It is appalling that we have students who are in such a position of financial difficulty that they need this help. Having your period should not be a barrier to coming to college.

'We want our women and girls to succeed and to be able to attend their classes in comfort and in dignity. This campaign will support students who may need help to access sanitary products and ensure that they have every chance of fulfilling their academic potential.'

Newcastle College pastoral support manager Melanie Kay said: 'Many of our students face financial barriers to education. Providing sanitary protection will go a long way to enable women and girls facing real hardship to be able to attend college and be supported without stigma. We will be collecting donations of sanitary products from any colleagues who are able to contribute.'

UCU head of equality Helen Carr said: 'Free sanitary products will help address period poverty issues, as students in particular face financial challenges while they are studying. Tampons and sanitary pads are not luxury items, they are essential for women. The initiative by the UCU branch at Newcastle College provides women with dignity and respect and should help address the taboos around periods.

'However, the government should be following the example set in Scotland and dealing with period poverty in all schools, colleges and universities.'

In August, the Scottish government announced that students at schools, colleges and universities across the country would have access to free sanitary products to fight period poverty.

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