‘Kids feel they can’t talk about it’: Hackney charity Red Box on tackling period poverty

Gemma Abbott of Red Box.

Gemma Abbott of Red Box. - Credit: Archant

A Hackney charity offering free sanitary products is out to tackle the taboo of period poverty.

The Red Box Project Hackney North provides more than 60 boxes of free period products in schools and youth settings such as Young Hackney, Stoke Newington School and Our Lady's Convent. It receives donations from supermarkets, libraries and local businesses.

Volunteer coordinator Gemma Abbott said: "There's a big financial need in Hackney. There's a lot of kids in poverty, a lot using food banks, and a lot on universal credit.

"If you're a family struggling to make ends meet and you can't put food on the table, you'll also be struggling to buy menstrual products.

"It's so important these people know they can access sanitary products. It's a weight off their minds and one less thing to worry about."

Gemma said every organisation in Hackney who wanted a red box now had one, with the charity's main aim to get people talking.

"There's a huge stigma around menstruation but also around poverty," she continued. "When the two intersect you get this unmentionable problem which is extremely challenging for people to talk about. Kids don't feel like there's anyone they can tell."

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The Red Box plans to close by the end of the year, following the government's announcement last month that free sanitary products will be in all English primary schools from next year.